Monday, May 29, 2017
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Many young women are marrying early due to a lack of adequate information about sexual and reproductive health issues.

Secretary of State for Youth and Sport (SEJD) Leovigildo da Costa Hornai said one of the most significant obstacles faced by young women was early pregnancy.

“Families in rural and urban areas should tell their children not to get married early because it can ruin their future,” he said at the opening of a march to mark International Girls Day in Jardin 5 de Maio in Dili.

“They have already formed a family; of course this impedes them from continuing their study at a high level because they must take responsibility for their own family.”

He said the government and local organizations, with the support of international agencies, continued to make efforts to establish a clear policy in regards to women’s participation in the national development process.

Therefore, he called for the young women to strengthen their morality, knowledge and humanity to enjoy their rights correctly.

“These three foundations will guide you to become Timorese women that can respond to the global and universal principles,” he said. 

However, he said another obstacle faced by young women in relation to early marriage was Timor’s culture of giving higher importance to men.

However, he said it depended on individual families as to whether daughters were given equal opportunities and access to education.

Meanwhile, youth representative Odelia da Luz Vargas acknowledged that many young women were unable to continue their studies as a result of early pregnancy.

“I think it is not good and we should raise awareness to increase young women’s consciousness about the importance of education,” she said.

She therefore called on the government to improve the quality of education quality as this helped develop better leaders in the future.

According to 2014 data from the Ministry of Health, 23.2% of women under the age of 19 dropped out of school after falling pregnant.

Meanwhile, Deputy President of Rede Feto Alzira Reis said women’s organizations had conducted many campaigns about the impact of early pregnancy on health and education, but they were not working effectively.

“It (early pregnancy) impedes their education because they cannot go back to school and increases the risk of abortion [and] other infectious disease in their reproductive organs,” she said.

She said the lack of information from parents meant many young women abandoned their classes to do other activities outside with friends.

She therefore called on women’s organizations to continue to advocate for the government to establish a policy to encourage young women to continue their studies after giving birth.

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