Lois is a junior high school student from Accra, the costal West African capital city of Ghana. She gave birth to her first child, a girl named Aoife, only one month ago.
At just 15, Lois hopes to continue her education into senior high school. Though she is no longer with Aoife’s father, Lois’ grandmother is very supportive and has offered to help care for the baby.
“I want to become a lawyer when I’m older. I have this ambition to defend children and speak on behalf of girls who suffer from teenage pregnancy because of my experience. It’s very difficult to be a very young mother.”
Not long ago, Lois was going for a prenatal appointment and was referred to a Marie Stopes Ghana Youth Center. After speaking to one of the center’s nurses, who explained all of the contraceptive options available to her, Lois decided to get the 3-month Depo injection.
“Coming here has helped me to see that I have a dream ahead, that teenage pregnancy is not the end. The staff here spoke to me about continuing school. They gave me books to read, about different girls’ experiences.”
Adolescents and teenagers have many of the same needs of other women of reproductive age, but ensuring they have access to services poses unique challenges. Providing contraceptive access to youth begins with engaging them in the design of our centers and programs to best understand their needs. Other important considerations include training MSI providers to be bias-free youth specialists and ensuring free and confidential services.
That is why, in many different countries, Marie Stopes has established youth centers to specifically reach and cater to vulnerable young women like Lois. Because youth are not a homogeneous group, MSI adjusts services to best fit different communities and cultures. These centers focus on creating a friendly space to talk about sexual and reproductive health, a topic that is often taboo among teens around the world.
“Everyone is friendly here. I would advise young people to come here whenever they are in trouble, as adolescence is a very difficult stage and we need advice. They don’t talk about contraception at school, only when the nurses visit.”
Lois’ personal experience has transformed her into an ambitious young woman, determined to make a difference for girls in her community. She’s not opposed to having more children, but she hopes to delay having more until her goals are achieved.
“I’ll wait before having another child until after I’ve finished pursuing my dream, which is why contraception is so important.”