Fri 8th Nov 2013
SVG has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean. SVG also has the third highest rate of rape per capita in the world. These are statistics of shame, and under Gonsalves, our country has been dragged down to a murky and deplorable level.
Gonsalves has failed the girls and women of SVG. According to a UNICEF report in 2006, in SVG at least 12 girls aged 10 to 14 give birth each year, and girls aged 15 to 19 account for approximately 20% of all births.
In October 2013, a United Nations (UN) report highlighted the high rates of teenage pregnancies in developing countries = 7.3 million every year and called on governments to help girls achieve their full potential through education and adequate health services.
The UN says that too often, society blames only the girl for getting pregnant. The reality is that adolescent pregnancy is most often not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather the absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girl's control. It is a consequence of little or no access to school, employment, quality information and health care.
SVG Green Party has been saying for the longest while that we must invest heavily in education to enable all children to reach their potential. This includes proving free internet to every household and cutting the price of electricity substantially so every house has electricity. This way, children of the poor can get a good education.
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon echoes SVG Green Party's thoughts. In 2012, he said education is a priority, and he launched the Global Education First Initiative which aims to put every child in school and improve the quality of learning.
The UN says that the exclusion of girls from the education system carries too high a cost to girls themselves, their families and the wider society to be ignored. The UN says that early pregnancy takes a toll on a girl's health, education and rights as it prevents her from realizing her potential and adversely impacts the baby.
The UN has called for swift action to eliminate barriers to girls education. A Green government would take swift action by abolishing the tax exemptions given to Taiwan and the white super-rich of Mustique and Canouan and bring free internet and our own science and technology university. This will help girls achieve their full potential.
'Education can transform the lives of girls and strengthen their communities,' said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. 'Innovation can help us reach every girl by transforming education.' UNICEF says it is important to boost girls' skills and job readiness in non-traditional jobs, such as engineering and science.
It appears that teenage mothers are more likely to be living in poverty in SVG and that teenage pregnancy is often associated with poor economic and social conditions. Teenage pregnancy is a problem unacceptable and as a nation we should be proactive in dealing with this.
A Green Government will tackle teenage pregnancy by focusing on innovation and education, adopting a knowledge-based economy and urgently build our own science and technology university. This will also create thousands of new jobs and revenue for the country.