Building a Safer and Peaceful World for a Teenage Mother

“Gusto ko po yung peaceful na mundo, yung walang chismosa, walang away… ‘yung wala akong ibang iniisip."

Type: Story

“Gusto ko po yung peaceful na mundo, yung walang chismosa, walang away… ‘yung wala akong ibang iniisip,” said Althea* (not her real name).

Althea was 13 when she gave birth to her son. Since she became pregnant, she has experienced being the subject of hurtful gossip. “May mga ano, mga marites…. Nakaka-ano po sa akin na pinag-uusapan nila ako tapos dinadagdagan po nila ang kwento. (There are people who gossip a lot. It affects me when they talk about me. And they make up stories.)”.

Althea is not alone in her experience. Adolescent mothers often experience stigma and discrimination, which hinders them from availing health services for fear of being shamed.

In 2022, the national government declared adolescent pregnancy as a national emergency, with lack of access to right information as a main contributing factor. Various consultations with children conducted by Save the Children Philippines also showed that adolescent pregnancy is one of the main issues that are affecting children.

In response, Save the Children Philippines’ Sponsorship Program shifted its focus to cater to girls ages 10-17, along with boys in the same households, in marginalized areas in Mindanao and Metro Manilla. Together with their families, communities, and government institutions, the organization works to ensure that girls can protect themselves by accessing information, services, and remedies linked to adolescent pregnancy and child, early, forced and arranged marriages and unions (CEFMU).

Girls are given the opportunity to learn and build their confidence to claim their rights, while aiming to make their families supportive and enabling through the Family Development Approach (FDA). The FDA helps families develop a protective environment for girls by challenging long-held beliefs, attitudes, and notions, including gender stereotypes and gender biases, and parenting without violence. Further, the program is envisioning communities to move collectively to support and protect girls, and looking to create meaningful partnerships with government institutions to provide responsive mechanisms, systems, and high-quality inclusive programs tailored to their needs.

Althea is one of the girls who participated in the FDA. A key point of the approach is the Family Development Planning (FDP), where families are given the space to talk and plan for the development of the entire family. She says, “Mas gusto ko kapag may Save the Children [na activities] kasi andiyan din si Mama. Napapakinggan niya ang side ko, napapakinggan ko ang side niya. (I prefer when there are Save the Children activities because Mama is there as well. She listens to my side, and I get to hear her side too.)”.

Ez, a community mobilizer of HaUman Inc., Save the Children’s implementing partner in South Central Mindanao, says, “Kasi yung sa FDA, sa session na talagang nakakatulong sa kanila. Hindi lang kasi yung mga bata yung nabibigyan ng impormasyon, kasali na din kasi doon yung nasa loob talaga ng pamilya nila, yung kasama talaga ng bata - yung parents nila, yung mga kapatid nila. Kaya hindi lang sila ang nabibigyan ng sapat na impormasyon doon, kabilang na rin yung parents at sa buong pamilya nila. (The FDA sessions really help them. It's not just the children who are given information; it also includes their family, those who are really with the child, - their parents and siblings. That's why they are not the only ones given sufficient information there, but also their parents and the whole family).”

She adds on the FDP experience: “Makakatulong po siya (FDP sessions); para po lumaban (ang mga batang babae) at wag hahayaang apihin ka. (The FDP sessions can help. To remind us to keep on fighting and not let others belittle you.)

There is still a long way to go before Ali can achieve her peaceful world. It is, however, not impossible. Save the Children is advocating for the passage of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention bill or House Bill 8910, still pending in the Senate. It aims to prevent adolescent pregnancies by institutionalizing social protection and services for adolescent parents like Althea.

Collaborative efforts from individuals, families, communities, and government institutions are crucial to protecting girls, and supporting young mothers and their children. Together, we can break the cycle of inequality and discrimination for girls.

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About Save the Children Philippines

Save the Children Philippines has been working hard every day to give Filipino children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for and with children to positively transform their lives and the future we share.

DSWD License No.: DSWD-SB-L-00008-2024
Coverage: Regions I, II, III, IV-A, IV-MIMAROPA, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, CARAGA, CAR, and NCR
Period: February 16, 2024 – February 17, 2027

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