Initiation of sexual behaviour and early childbearing: poverty and the gendered nature of responsibility amongst young people in South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of International Women's Studies
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2018
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Makiwane, N.A.Gumede, L.Molobela
KEYWORDS: POVERTY, PREGNANCY, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR, YOUTH
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10399

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Abstract

Childbearing is an important life course event and a decision to give birth has significant implication in contemporary society, especially if it occurs before the completion of schooling and predating the start of being gainfully employed. Globally, teenage pregnancy is more common among young people who have been disadvantaged in childhood and have low expectations of education or opportunities in the job market. Literature shows that youth living in poverty have higher teen pregnancy rate than the average population. Socio-economic circumstances seem to play a major role in the rates of teen pregnancy. Poor access to contraception and inconsistent or non-use of family planning services, a situation that prevails mostly among people of low socioeconomic status, has been noted as major contributing factors to high rates of teenage pregnancy. Although family planning services are provided for free in South Africa, poverty, cultural believes and negative judgment by health care workers remain barriers to access. As a result giving birth at a young age becomes prevalent and often continues the cycle of poverty and in most cases women bear the brunt of the responsibility. Furthermore, teenage pregnancy has negative health outcomes for the expectant teenager as it increases risks of obstetrical complications and mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The study makes use of mixed methods in order to illustrate gender dynamics in reproductive lives of young people.