A report by Statistics South Africa titled: “The Young and Restless-Adolescent Health in South Africa” shows that adolescents aged 10-19 represent a significant proportion of the population at 17,4%. The report further shows that adolescents face many challenges such as mental health issues, alcohol and drug use, and early and unprotected sex, which carries a high risk of acquiring HIV infections and other sexually transmitted infections as well as teenage pregnancy.
Over the last three years, there has been a significant increase in teenage pregnancy in the age cohort 10-14 and 14-19 years who delivered at public health facilities, with estimates revealing that over 150 000 young girls were pregnant in the 2022/2023 financial year. Teenage pregnancy has adverse outcomes for girls as they often drop out of school and prevent them from realising their full potential, enjoying and exercising their rights. It curtails their learning outcomes and education status, which in turn limits their future participation in economic opportunities and perpetuates intergenerational cycle of poverty.
The foregoing has prompted the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu who also serves as the SheDecides Global Champion, to relaunch the SheDecides Movement in South Africa in collaboration with Kgosi Gaboilelwe Moroka of Barolong Boo Seleka Traditional Council. SheDecides is a global movement to promote, provide, protect and enhance the fundamental rights of girls and women to bodily autonomy and to make decisions about their bodies, lives, health and futures. The movement advocates for investment in comprehensive sexuality education to reduce unintended pregnancies, including teenage pregnancy.
Prior to the launch, Minister Zulu and Kgosi Moroka will visit local health facilities, which have a crucial role to play in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services to adolescent and teenagers. After the launch, the Department will embark on a national roll out of SheDecides Movement to complement other initiatives such ChommY and YOLO, with focus on teenage pregnancy hot spots areas across the country.
With the festive season upon us and young people engaging in the so-called “pens down” celebrations across the country, Minister Zulu will also use the opportunity to launch the anti-alcohol and substance abuse festive season campaign to create awareness and educate the public about the negative effects of alcohol and substance abuse, including under-age drinking.
“Alcohol is the most used and abused drug amongst South Africans. One of the most alarming consequences of drug and alcohol abuse during this time of the year is an uptick in alcohol-related road fatalities. As the festive season approaches and we celebrate the end of what has been a difficult year for many, we appeal that we do so in a drug-free environment to prevent the heightened risk of drugs and alcohol-related accidents, trauma and injuries during this time of the year”, said Minister Zulu.
The Anti-Alcohol and Drugs Festive Season Campaign forms part of the activities for the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (2019-2024)—South Africa Free of Substance Abuse.
Members of the media interested in covering the relaunch of SheDecides and the Anti-Alcohol and drugs Festive Season Campaign are invited as follows:
Date: Friday, 8 December 2023
Venue: Barolong Boo Seleka Tribal Council, Thaba Nchu-Free State
Live on: www.dsdtv.org.za
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT