What Made this Mom Wary, Then Willing?

by Alia McKee, Principal, Sea Change Strategies

Sharifa was wary about this workshop. She didn’t want to encourage her daughter to have sex, and she thought talking to 18-year-old Falhya about contraception would only give her permission.

This reserved approach to sex education has dire repercussions. In Tanzania, nearly half of teenage girls will get pregnant by age 19.

Sharifa was very skeptical when she entered the Safina clinic close to her home in Dar es Salaam this Tuesday afternoon. She comes here for medical services, but had never attended something like this — a workshop about educating daughters about sex.

With encouragement from a friend, Sharifa reluctantly came. Over the course of the next hour, she opened up. Her arms uncrossed. Her face lightened.

She closed her eyes when the facilitator asked her to remember what it was like for her as a teenager. “What did she dress like? What people surrounded her? What did she want in life?”

She remembered that her mother didn’t say anything to her about her body changes. That’s why she had her daughter Falhya at a very young age.

The goal of the gathering? To encourage mothers to invite their teenage daughters to a “social club” on Saturday where a PSI-trained provider will be on hand to talk to their daughters about pregnancy prevention and give them a contraception method if they choose.

After the workshop, Sharifa said, “I think education and knowledge are most important. I decided to listen and pick what’s right for my daughter. She’s going to come to the club on Saturday. I think she’ll be excited to meet other girls and learn how I did today.”

In Tanzania, parents typically don’t talk to their children about contraception or pregnancy prevention. That is why PSI has created Kuwa Mjanja, a program that focuses on preventing unplanned teen pregnancy.