pregnancy is a major challenge in rural Sierra Leone. The shame associated with
pregnancy outside of marriage makes it daunting for the parents of pregnant
teenage girls and others to discuss the issue in public.
But Skirt n' Trosis (Skirt and Trousers) – a
radio programme that aims to empower women - is changing this. With support
from BBC Media Action and funding from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth
Office, partner radio station Voice of
Women – which broadcasts from Mattru Jong, a town in Sierra Leone’s south -
is producing this new programme and giving people the space to tackle the
the lid on stigma
Yanguba is a school teacher in Mattru Jong. Like many other rural women in the
country, she was faced with a dilemma: abandon her pregnant teenage daughter to
an uncertain future – as many parents do - or support her despite the shame
surrounding teenage pregnancy.
opted for the latter.
interview for Skirt n' Trosis, Agnes
quoted a popular saying, "there isn't a dustbin in which to dump a bad child" –
meaning you don't give up on your child because he or she has done something
called on other parents to stand by their daughters during those difficult
moments. For Agnes, it's wasn’t just about supporting her child. It was an
opportunity to turn her life round. Today, she feels vindicated. Her daughter
is back in school, has matured and is fully focused on her academic work. Her
future looks bright.
rural Sierra Leone, it's not common for parents to discuss their teenage
daughter's pregnancy – and certainly not on the radio. For most teenagers,
pregnancy ushers in the beginning of a new life: one of constant struggle to
make ends meet coupled with derision from society.
off the debate
Skirt n' Trosis is kicking off the debate
and getting everybody talking. Agnes and her daughter’s story is a powerful one
- one that strikes at the heart of the way parents and society perceive teenage
pregnancy: the courage and commitment to stand by pregnant teenagers and
provide them the chance to shape their lives.
It's a story that has the potential to challenge
social norms in rural Sierra Leone. And there may be many others like it out