In Tanzania, teenage pregnancy rates are still high despite the efforts being made to reduce them. Not enough is known about how adolescents experience and cope with sexuality and teenage pregnancy. Over the past few decades, most studies have focused on vulnerability and risk among youth. The concept of ‘reproductive resilience’ is a new way of looking at teenage pregnancy. It shifts the perspective from a deficit-based to a strength-based approach. The study presented here aimed to identify factors that could contribute to strengthening the reproductive resilience of girls in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Using a cross-sectional cluster sampling approach, 750 female adolescents aged 15–19 years were interviewed about how they mobilize resources to avoid or deal with teenage pregnancy. The main focus of the study was to examine how social capital (relations with significant others), economic capital (command over economic resources), cultural capital (personal dispositions and habits), and symbolic capital (recognition and prestige) contribute to the development of adolescent competencies for avoiding or dealing with teenage pregnancy and childbirth.
A cumulative competence scale was developed to assess reproductive resilience. The cumulative score was computed based on 10 competence indicators that refer to the re- and pro-active mobilization of resources. About half of the women who had never been pregnant fell into the category, ‘high competence’ (50.9%), meaning they could get the information and support needed to avoid pregnancies. Among pregnant women and young mothers, most were categorized as ‘high competence’ (70.5%) and stated that they know how to avoid or deal with health problems that might affect them or their babies, and could get the information and support required to do so. Cultural capital, in particular, contributed to the competence of never-pregnant girls [OR = 1.80, 95% CI = 1.06 to 3.07, p = 0.029], pregnant adolescents and young mothers [OR = 3.33, 95% CI = 1.15 to 9.60, p = 0.026].
The reproductive resilience framework provides new insights into the reproductive health realities of adolescent girls from a strength-based perspective. While acknowledging that teenage pregnancy has serious negative implications for many female adolescents, the findings presented here highlight the importance of considering girls’ capacities to prevent or deal with teenage pregnancy.
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- Understanding resilience of female adolescents towards teenage pregnancy: a cross-sectional survey in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Collins K Ahorlu
- BioMed Central
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