As he signed legislation on youth education programs, President Juan Manuel Santos reminded the country on Friday of the high rate of teen pregnancy in Colombia.
“We have to recognize that in this specific aspect [teen pregnancy] we are not doing well. We still have the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies in Latin America,” Santos said.
During a meeting with at least 100 education officials from all over the country, during which he sanctioned the Education Coexistence Act, the President recounted the initiatives underway for improving education. “This is one of the paths that is going to lead to a better version of our country,” he said.
Santos reminded the audience that teen pregnancy is robbing opportunities from “thousands and thousands of little girls.”
According to human rights NGO Plan International, in Colombia, 20% of adolescent girls are either mothers or pregnant. A trend which they say is derived from Colombia’s “machismo” culture.
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It is estimated that 90 out of every 1,000 Colombian girls aged 15 to 19 become pregnant every year, and – with legal abortions legal only in cases where the mother or baby is at risk — most of these girls find themselves responsible for a child.
It was reported that in 2007 there were 6,599 cases of teen pregnancy where as in 2009 the number had risen to 6,928 with teen mothers generally showing a 60% chance of having another child – demonstrating a continual rise in the statistics.
“Teen pregnancy is established as one of the main causes of poverty in the country, for that reason it is required to take the necessary steps to prevent further problems caused by these cases,” Simon Gaviria, president of Colombia’s House of Representatives said in November of 2012.