News

Babaenihan’s community-level talk

28 September 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo encourages teenage mothers to study and work hard and focus on their children.

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines — With courage in her voice, young mom Kimberly Balid, 20, shared before an audience of fellow young mothers and Vice President Leni Robredo her challenges in unplanned pregnancy and early motherhood.

“The experience was tough,” Kimberly said as she recalled the times when she could not provide for her child. A single parent, she said her family, especially her mom, helped her cope with the new chapter in her life.

Kimberly was speaking at the Babaenihan community-based talk, organized by the Office of the Vice President, in partnership, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to raise awareness about the urgency of addressing teenage pregnancies through investments in education, health, and economic opportunities.

“Babaenihan,” which comes from the root words “babae” (woman) and “bayanihan” (community spirit), aims for the public and private sector as well as civil society to invest in education, health and economic opportunities for girls and young mothers. It conducts talks at the community and national levels.

"I know how difficult this must be. I married when I was very young, at 22. But despite the difficulties, we can overcome," said Vice President Leni Robredo. "Teenage moms have nothing to be ashamed of. We must all help, but they must help themselves. Study, work hard, and focus on your children," Robredo added.

Young mom, Kimberly Balid shares her experiences and challenges on motherhood.

 

Teenage pregnancy is generally not the result of a deliberate choice – these girls often have little say over decisions affecting their lives. Rather, early pregnancy is a consequence of little or no access to school, information or health care.

According to the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, once girls reached 19, one in five will likely be a mother. The Philippines, in fact, is the only country in Southeast Asia where the incidence of teenage pregnancy is on the rise.       

Hence, the importance of campaigns like Babaenihan. “We want this campaign to evolve into something that will substantially benefit those affected by teenage pregnancy. For instance, the private sector can support these girls in completing their education by providing scholarships. We know that the higher the educational levels these girls reach, the more likely they are able to expand their capabilities, find decent work and contribute to sustainable economic growth,” said Pamela Marie Godoy, National Programme Officer - Gender/Gender-based Violence at the United Nations Population Fund.

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.

 

“We hope that the local government units and private sector can help our teenage moms because they have challenging years ahead of them. If we want to maximize their potential, we should give them the support that they need,” she added.

Kimberly, who gave birth to a boy, now seven months old, said she is still hopeful. “I want to enrol in TESDA to study electronics. Education is an investment,” Kimberly said, her eyes gleaming with hope for the future. Robredo could not agree more. “To teenage moms: Let your children be your inspiration."