About 63 percent of Liberia’s 4.6 million people are less than 25 years old. Early marriage and teenage pregnancy are common among girls as nearly 11 percent of females initiate sex at ages 11-14. Teenage pregnancy contributes significantly to dropout rates among school going girls. And to compound it all, about 67 percent of adolescent girls with no education are mothers, compared to 17 percent of those with secondary and higher education.
All of these stats point to one fact; the challenges faced by teenage girls are staggering. And the need to develop programs and activities that empower and build capacities to realize their full potentials cannot be overemphasized.
For this cause, on the day of the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11, 2019, The Girls For Change Organization (GFC), a non for profit group working to assist vulnerable women and girls, launches a Safe Space for Teenage mothers and girls to congregate and discuss issues that affect their wellbeing and development.
The space, which is also a safe space free of hazards, and an emotionally safe place where girls feel comfortable being themselves and expressing their feelings, to establishing an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion where they feel they belong, brings together teenage mothers from across communities in Thinkers Village and its surroundings.
At the Safe Space, an environment is created where new teenage mothers and girls easily adjust and are fit within a group. They were assigned to smaller groups to partner together on similar issues and brainstormed on solutions. This fosters an environment of belonging making sure girls are offered same opportunities, respect and honor, and knowing the difference and uniqueness in each other.
They (girls) learned among others, how to respect and understand their dignity as well as building trust in one another thereby making sure confidence is not betrayed. And the group discussions helped them understand how to make important decisions in the groups and how to correct mistakes.
Mrs. Oretha Lah-Bangurah-The Program Director stated “we coached them to give and show trust toward one another and learn how trust can be built or lost, regained, and strengthened. We created an environment that Inspire open communication where girls want someone who will listen to what they think, feel, and want to do”.
“At the end of this activity, the Safe space provides a robust support network for girls to better cope and to feel less isolated through connection with other people who were facing similar challenges. This gives them a sense of empowerment, which ultimately builds up their confidence. Also being able to tell their stories in their own words in a friendly and closed environment aiding the process of healing”, the statement said.