March 27, 2023

The first week of March each year was declared by former President Corazon C. Aquino on March 1, 1988 as Women’s Week and March 8 as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day to recognize the role of Filipino women to the struggle for national independence, civil liberties, equality, and human rights.
On March 17, 1988 through Proclamation 227, March was declared as Women’s Role in History Month.
Beneath the celebrations and ceremonies that highlight women’s roles in socio-economic developments, political and cultural growth is the strength of the empowered woman – a woman who not only asserts her rights but also participates in the care of other women. The empowered woman recognizes and believes in her own capabilities as a woman and is able to make her own decisions and choices to improve not only her plight but also of other women, even in small ways.
The World Health Organization reported in 2019 that an estimated 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years in developing nations become pregnant and approximately 12 million of them give birth. Half of the pregnancies were not planned or intended. More than half of these unplanned pregnancies ended in abortions.
Data in 2022 showed that overall, the number of early pregnancies in our country dropped from 8.6 percent to 5.4 percent, translated to 5,531 girls who ever had pregnancy.
Data taken from the Key Indicators Report of the 2022 National Demographic and Health and Survey show that in the Cordillera, teenage pregnancy was 6.1 percent in 2022 compared to 3.5 percent in 2017, up by 2.6 percent.
The Cordillera ranks first among regions with highest increase in teenage pregnancy. The other region that recorded an increase by 1.3 percent is the Western Visayas. Data also showed that among the age 15 to 19 years old, girls aged 19 years recorded the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy.
Teenage pregnancy will change the course of a young girl’s life. There are activities that can be enjoyed, tasks and joys that are but natural or inherent in a girl’s teenage life, as she gradually prepares to be a young lady then enter adulthood. Unprepared, the teenage mother suddenly becomes responsible not just for herself but also for another human being. Even her mental health can be affected when her schooling is interrupted, or when she misses out on her social activities.
Adolescent mothers have higher risk of complications like pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, and infections and their babies have higher risk of low birth weight and premature birth. To cite an example, episodes of hypertension in pre-eclampsia or eclampsia even after these are controlled can affect her health when she grows older, putting her at risk for hypertension in adulthood.
Empowered older women who are vigilant and generous to protect, educate, and guide young girls in making their own decisions regarding what to do with their body and their future do really help. Even seemingly small acts by older ladies who truly care will have an impact in the young minds of girls just waiting for an inspiration or motivation. Combined, empowered women’s efforts help social and health impact. They help mold young girls to eventually become socially responsive, empowered women themselves – decisive, self-fulfilled and confident. They know not only their rights but also their responsibilities to give back to the community. They themselves will help realize the dreams behind proclamations on women’s day and month into reality.