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A Review of Teenage Pregnancy in South Africa – Experiences of Schooling, and Knowledge and Access to Sexual & Reproductive Health Services

Publication year: 
Author (s): 
Samantha Willan,
Publication details: 
Partners in Sexual Health (PSH), 2013

This report highlights teenage pregnancy and teenage motherhood as a critical issue needing attention in South Africa as in the past few decades South Africa has seen a decline in teenage fertility; and yet rates still remain high with around 30% of 15-19 year olds reporting having ever been pregnant, with the majority of these pregnancies being among 18 and 19 year olds. Distinguishing between whether these pregnancies are among older or younger teenagers is important as the impact for a 19 or 15 year old will be very different. Furthermore, only around one third of teenage girls return to school following childbirth. Importantly, while a large number of pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers are not in school, a significant proportion of girls had dropped out from school before falling pregnant.Unplanned teenage pregnancy is driven by a number of issues including: unequal gender relations; gendered expectations of boys and girls; taboos around teenage sexuality making discussions around the topic difficult and fuelling stigma towards pregnant teenagers; poor access to contraceptives; judgemental attitudes of health care workers (HCWs), teachers and community members; low rates of consistent and correct contraceptive usage, and very little dual protection to protect against both unplanned pregnancies and STIs and HIV.