For teens, contraception makes a difference
How does access to contraception change an teen’s life? For the young women we serve in Androy, Madagascar, it can be the difference between planning for a professional career, or being forced to leave school.
Valerie and Fostine are two 18-year-old women from villages in the Androy region of Madagascar. In many ways, their lives are similar. They both come from families that, like many in the region, are struggling to make ends meet. Despite these challenges, they both made it to secondary school and hoped to finish their education. But then, their lives took different directions.
Without contraception, girls’ educations can be ended by unwanted pregnancy
“I was forced to leave school when I was 15 years old because I got pregnant,” Valerie told us. Ultimately, she miscarried, but she was unable to return to school. Because of her family’s financial situation, she had to take a job as a street vendor. “I was forced to earn money by selling cups of coffee or tea and fried fish.”
Valerie hasn’t given up on her dreams for the future and hopes to secure a better job someday. “I am thinking of saving money to go back to school like young people of my age,” she says. To avoid another unintended pregnancy, she visited an MSI outreach site and began using a contraceptive implant, which has allowed her to focus on her business. “I am confident that I will have a better life if I work hard and never give up.”
“When I talk to my friends, I always encourage them to enjoy the chance they have to continue studying,” she says. “I wish I could be them.”
With contraception, girls can dream big
Fostine is one of eleven children—and not all of them have had the chance to finish their education. But Fostine is determined to finish secondary school, and she knew that to do that, she’d need to avoid getting pregnant. So when MSI visited her village, she went to receive a contraceptive implant.
“I would like to finish school so that I can become a teacher or a doctor so that I can help my parents and siblings,” she explained. Like Valarie’s family, Fostine’s family has been affected by the drought in the region and sells food to get by. With a professional career, Fostine could help them make ends meet.
“That’s why I use contraception so I can fulfil my dream. Many of the girls in our village get pregnant at a very young age, some as early as 13.” Despite high rates of teen pregnancy, contraception is taboo in Fostine’s community; she is using contraception in secret. Now that she’s using a long-acting method, she feels ready for the future: “I can focus now on my studies and on how to deal with other problems that might prevent me from achieving my dream.”
Access to contraception matters
Valarie and Fostine are both 18-year-old women with big dreams for the future. So why is Fostine still in school while Valarie is working as a street vendor? There’s never one single explanation, but contraception certainly helped Fostine continue her studies. Because she was able to access contraception discreetly from MSI, Fostine is on track to finish secondary school and pursue a professional career that will help not only her, but her family as well. While Valarie hopes to return to school, her plans were derailed when pregnancy forced her to drop out. She has a harder road ahead of her because she didn’t have contraception when she needed it.
At MSI, we’ve made reaching adolescents a priority because we know they’re at a crucial time in their lives. The decisions they make now will shape their futures for years to come—and we’re committed to being there for them so they can pursue the lives they want.