•With increased teenage pregnancies, a related problem of abortion, which in many occasions has had negative impact on the health of girls is going to be on the rise.
•More concerted affirmative action interventions are required in the post COVID-19 era as we seek to protect the rights of girls and women in the country.
It appears girls were more affected than boys by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya reading from the many cases of early pregnancies and early marriages that have been reported across the country.
The out of school learning that was adopted for pupils has had a devastating effect on the girl child.
It has become hard to reach them with life skills, education, free sanitary towels and other school based interventions aimed at supporting them to remain protected as a vulnerable group.
It's not yet clear the number of girls, who have underwent harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation or being married off early. The statistics will come out later on the drop out rates, especially those who will be going back to school as student mothers.
Sammy Muraya of the Voice for Girls and Women's Rights notes while talking during a journalists roundtable that the pandemic has had a gender dimension.
He says that the containment measures has affected women, especially those seeking maternal health services, taking children to hospital and now having the burden which is likely to remain with grand children if their student mothers have to return to class in 2021.
Among the issues that came up, was that girl child who either because of poverty and related challenges in poverty stricken counties, were beneficiaries of affirmative action interventions, something that changed with the coming of the pandemic.
Exposed to lack of consistent meals and sanitary towels, a number of girls, have become vulnerable to harmful practices such as unsafe sex. And in the process, what we are seeing right not is in form of early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Some pupils, have been exposed to using family planning as a way for avoiding getting pregnant. In turn, they have had to grapple with the side effects in their monthly cycles which now they might receive thrice in a month.
As we look at the post Covid-19 period, interventions are needed to cushion the girl child against further suffering. There is a call for those who gave birth to return to schools, but more needs to be done to contain them in schools.
The student mothers will require support and care for their children, many will require parental support and psychosocial support to cope, while those who have tested marriage will find it lonely in school.
As indicated, the teenage pregnancies, increased cases of FGM and early marriages is going to have serious negative impact of girl child school enrolment and transition rates, once more disadvantaging the girl child.
With increased teenage pregnancies, a related problem of abortion, which in many occasions has had negative impact on the health of girls is going to be on the rise.
More concerted affirmative action interventions are required in the post COVID-19 era as we seek to protect the rights of girls and women in the country.