In Guatemala, half of all young women marry before the age of 20. Only five percent of them use an effective method of birth control.
Forty-four percent of women become mothers before they reach 20; the proportion of young mothers is even higher among women without education (68 percent) and among indigenous women (54%). By the time they turn 30, many of these women have seven or eight children.
Although there is a federal mandate to provide universal reproductive-health education and healthcare , entrenched cultural norms and the
influence of the Catholic Church mean that very few young people receive it.
Early motherhood is recognized throughout the world as a factor that negatively impacts the physical, emotional, and reproductive well-being of young women, as well as the pace of a country’s development. In Guatemala, scarce economic resources limit the lives of most young people; an unplanned pregnancy adds further weight to their burden. Thus, it is imperative that young people have access to education regarding the additional social, psychological, and health consequences of teen pregnancy.
Stuart Schear, the former Vice President of Communications for Planned Parenthood, has written about a very innovative program that is directed at teenagers.
To quote from his blog, funding and technical assistance from Planned Parenthood supports “Tan Ux’il, a local youth organization active in the rural northern region of Petén. Tan Ux’il seeks to ensure that young people between the ages of 12 and 19 have accurate information about sexual health and birth control. The organization also advocates for health services for pregnant women.” TanUx’il’s young activists also created a friendly clinic in a local hospital that caters to young pregnant teenagers.
The full waiting room of a prenatal clinic in a regional hospital in Peten Guatemala. The youth activist of Tan Ux’il lobbied for this youth friendly clinic and suggested that it be painted in bright colors.
A young pregnant teenager waiting for her pre-natal exam.
This pregnant young girl is only 16 years old.
Her boyfriend was 24.
Gomber, a young DJ for Sexo Tips Radio, who shares tips about sexual health and birth control with her audience in Guatemala between playing pop songs.
Elmer, a founder of Sexo Tips Radio, plays popular music and answer questions from their peers about sex and puberty.
Some of the other teenagers of Tan Ux’il broadcasting their Sexo Tips radio program.