She was forced to attend school during an outbreak and is now pregnant. She is one of millions of girls who cannot return to class


She did not think she was exchanging money with three 19-year-old girls for food for her three younger brothers and two cousins, who lived in a one-room house in a slum on the beach in Mombasa. Kenya At the end of the day, Bella did not explain what she had bought when she returned home for dinner with rice and other ingredients.

WhatsApp ella Bella said: “This outbreak is causing the economy to collapse, especially in the area. The teenager asked to change her name to protect her identity.

Prior to the epidemic, Bella was in second grade at City High School. There she was a historic student who enjoyed playing table tennis with friends during class breaks. But when the Covid-19 spread in March, Kenyan schools were closed.

Due to the lack of electricity and internet access, Bella was unable to continue her distance learning and reduced her mother’s income from selling vegetables on the street, leaving Bella to wash her clothes to supplement her family income.

“God, my mother killed me that day. My mother was very angry with me and beat me. I do not want to say. She did not know that I knew something about this man.”


When one of her clients pressured her to have sex, she said she would offer 1,000 Kenyan dinars ($ 9) or 1,500 shillings ($ 13) for unprotected sex. – I feel like she can’t speak. When she found out she was pregnant, she disappeared.

If the infected person was not here, I would go to school. Like these laundry clothes, when I met this person, I played a key role in the spread of the disease during my pregnancy. Bella, who is currently receiving cash transfers from ActionAid, a social welfare and international campaign group, said:

Bella, now three months pregnant, said she could not return to school when Kenyan schools reopened in January. A friend of her mother, who was helping her pay her salary, withdrew her support.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Science and Culture Association (UNESCO) It is estimated that nearly 24 million children and adolescents, including 11 million girls and young women like Bella, will drop out of school next year due to the economic impact of an infectious disease alone (130 million girls have already dropped out of school). According to the agency). This is true of gender. Not only does it threaten to undo decades of progress on unjust equality, but it also threatens girls around the world to work as child laborers. Teen pregnancy Experts say there is a risk of forced marriage and violence.
Stephenia Jennini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, said: “Pregnant girls are less likely to return to school during the closed season. Policies and practices in some countries specifically restrict their participation. ”For education. Teen pregnancies threaten blockage during an outbreak One million girls From education in sub-Saharan Africa World Vision is a member of UNESCO’s Covid-19 Global Education Coalition:

For many girls, school is not just a study but a path to a brighter future, Jenny added. It is the lifeblood of vital nutrition services. Menstrual cleaning management;

Previous crises have proved that girls are the first to leave the classroom and the last to return. When the Ebola outbreak caused school closures in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, girls were living in poverty and poverty. Increased child labor and teen pregnancy and prevented the resumption of studies in some cases UNICEF Save the children versus UNDP It has been shown
In Sierra Leone, more than 14,000 teen pregnancies have occurred. UNICEF: In addition, girls from all over the country never returned to class. In part, this is due to a policy banning pregnant women from attending school. Submitted by Plan International: Sierra Leone, the largest population, has seen a 16 percent drop in enrollment World Bank Publication Working Paper:
Using school drop-out data for Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone Malala Fund It is estimated that millions of middle school-age girls may remain in the classroom in the 20 years following the Coronavirus outbreak.

“This infection has played a major role for me now because if I had not been infected, I would have gone to school. If I had met that person, it would not have happened at all.”


The effects of the Covid-19 virus on girls have been felt for generations.

Earlier this year UNFPA estimates An estimated 7 million unprotected pregnancies and gender-based unrest are expected due to at least six months of sanctions. 31 million cases of gender-based violence; It could lead to 13 million child marriages and 2 million female genital mutilation cases in the next decade.
Covid-19 says it will lift 47 million women and girls into poverty The analysis is presented by UN Women and UNDPBy 2021, an estimated 435 million women and girls will live on less than $ 1.90 a day. According to the report, the number of women and girls living in extreme poverty will not return to epidemic levels until 2030.

ActionAid Secretary-General Julia Sánchez said: “We are seeing a significant and rapid decline in the impact of Covid and our progress on gender equality.” A genital mutilation has been stopped.

“All of a sudden it was as if we all turned our backs and we were going in the opposite direction.”

In one ActionAid Survey India Ghana Of the 1,129 women aged 18 to 30 in urban areas of Kenya and South Africa, only 22 percent said they could continue their education. However, interviews with young women based on their willingness to respond were limited in the survey – only 25% were in some form of current education.

The girls surveyed, who face extracurricular and economic insecurity, were more likely to be forced to carry heavy loads of services and household chores; Life-saving sexual and reproductive health services are not available, including birth control. It is more vulnerable to unscriptural violence.

In Kenya, 76% of violence is high. The young women surveyed repeatedly reported sexual abuse and early pregnancy. Echoes Bella’s story. Girls and girls who drop out of school are more likely to be forced to exchange money due to financial difficulties, according to the survey.

“There are a lot of girls in my area, the situation is the same. My situation now is that I hope God will help me from here, and I am out of this security.”


Kenya, like other countries in Africa, has pledged to prevent child exclusion from education by 2030. But a controversial approach to dealing with teen pregnancy – like pre-communicable disease campaigns Human Rights Watch: In July, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta orders investigation There have been reports of violence against women and girls, and adolescent pregnancy has worsened during the epidemic.

Disappointed supporters say that cuts in foreign aid from donor countries due to austerity measures by Covid could have a huge impact on girls’ education and leave girls and girls at the center of the school-provided security network, especially since the Second World War.

A World Bank ReportIn 2018, in collaboration with the Malala Foundation, it revealed that the educational opportunities for middle school girls and girls are between $ 15 trillion and $ 30 trillion.

Lucia Frere, director of research and policy, said: Governments are also struggling with declining revenues due to the economic impact of Kovis and rising demand for health care. Malala Fund said. “In some cases, many countries still need funding today, far from education.”

Many advocates are urging governments to maintain the priority given to education, and at the same time call on the international community to provide financial relief for debt relief and emergency assistance. In the long run, they are looking at reforms such as the international tax system to allow countries to retain revenue from public services.

At the same time, teenagers like Bella need to shift their expectations from one of the futures of school to home.

“It was very difficult for me. There were no words to describe how I felt,” Bella said.

“It ‘s impossible to go back to school … My baby is coming soon.”

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