Babaenihan Campaign 

Vice President Leni Robredo and UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck took part in a dialogue with young people at the launch of the campaign at Western Philippines University, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. © UNFPA Philippines

 

The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia where teenage pregnancy are not falling, according to a 2015 UNFPA study.

There are 10 million girls aged 10-19 years old in the country, but by age 19, 1 in 5 girls will be a mother, according to the 2013 demographic and health survey.

To take on this issue, UNFPA, the United Nations reproductive health and rights agency, and the Office of the Vice President have started the Babaenihan campaign, a call to action for the public and private sectors, as well as civil society partners, to invest in education, health and economic opportunities for adolescent girls.

National and community-level talks

Babaenihan – which combines the Tagalog words for “women” and “community spirit” – will conduct talks at both the national and community level, and will engage with local governments.

As part of the Babaenihan campaign, high school students participate in a focus group discussion in Pampanga High school. © UNFPA Philippines

 

The community-based talks, held throughout the Philippines, will enable marginalized girls to participate in, and shape the direction of, the campaign.

Girls will be able to ask questions and share their experiences, concerns and challenges. Cumulatively, the real-world needs of adolescent girls will be reflected in the campaign, and their challenges will be brought to the attention of local and national policymakers.

Vice President Leni Robredo listens to teen mothers and encourages them to study and work hard at Babaenihan’s community-level talk in Camarines Sur. © UNFPA Philippines

 

Youth perspective

The campaign kicked off with an opportunity for young people to make their voices heard by leaders.

At a launch event, held on 11 August 2017 at Western Philippines University, an open forum on teenage pregnancy was conducted with high school students. Vice President Leni Robredo and UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck both took part in the event, listening to the perspectives of young people.

“Too many young girls do not have access to correct information, advice and services to prevent pregnancy,” said Mr. Beck.

A student from Juan Sumulong High school, Quezon City asks a question on teenage pregnancy to Vice President Leni Robredo and UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck. © UNFPA Philippines

 

“We want to focus on 10- to 19-year-old girls,” Vice President Robredo explained. “We want them to maximize their potential, so we want to hear from them about the challenges they’re facing, particularly teenage pregnancy. We don’t want to create programmes where we dictate upon them. We want to create programmes with them, where they are the ones who tell us what they think is the assistance they need.”

Babaenihan is the first-ever campaign to address the prevention and response to teenage pregnancy conducted with the support of the highest female official in the country.

The campaign has had activities in Palawan, Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Metro Manila and Lanao del Norte.

Jonahkriza Aglupus, Programe Officer at the OVP and Pamela Godoy, National Programme Officer - Gender Gender-based Violence at UNFPA conduct a focus group discussion with teenage mothers. © UNFPA Philippines