What's happening to young mothers in Sierra Leone?Everyday millions of young mothers around the world, many of them girls, are suffering from violations to their basic rights. Many endure low standards of living and a lack of education as well as discrimination and abuse from their families or communities. Girls who are mothers in Sierra Leone are no exception.
During the Civil War a large number of girls and young women were abducted by rebels and raped. Many then became pregnant. When they were finally released after the war the girls mothers returned home only to be faced by rejection from their families and communities, who saw them as cause of shame and a burden. This discrimination was not due to their association with rebels, but rooted in their status as unmarried, single mothers. In a religious country like Sierra Leone where sex out of marriage is culturally deemed a sin it is common for unmarried pregnant girls to be stigmatized and treated as social outcasts.
Being a pregnant young mother in Sierra Leone often means they completely miss out on education. Many girls are forced to drop out of school to care for their babies or due to discrimination by school authorities, teachers and peers. They also face rejection in their communities which makes going back into education or skills training harder. The reality of girls who are mothers only adds to the general situation of all girls in Sierra Leone who as shown by UNICEF have lower school enrolment and attendance rates than boys and a literacy rate of just 46%.
For this reason ChildHope and HANCI are not only working with street-involved boys but also street-involved girls who are mothers and lack access to education, skills and support systems to care for their babies.
ChildHope's work supporting young mothers in Sierra LeoneThe main aim of ChildHope's work in Sierra Leone is to enable young mothers forced to live or work on the streets to access and remain in education and to learn valuable knowledge and skills about baby health care, nutrition and child development. This support is invaluable, as it will provide young mothers with the ability to properly look after and to improve the health of their babies, and also to focus on their own personal development.
ChildHope and HANCI's common goal is to work together to mitigate cultural and social barriers to girls accessing education and baby care skills and to fight against the young mothers' stigma and discrimination.
So ChildHope would like to wish all mothers a Happy Mother's Day and invite you to spare a thought for young mothers in Sierra Leone.