Every year, seven million children under 18 in developing countries become mothers. Two million of these girls are under 15 years old. Plan International Finland, together with fashion designer Paola Suhonen, has launched a product that the world should not need - Maternity wear for a 12-year old. We commissioned this collection to raise awareness for this grave issue that girls in developing countries face, and to raise funds to help end child motherhood.
how was the child maternity wear campaign made
education is the answer to ending child motherhood
Preventing child and teenage pregnancies can be done. Plan International works on legislative changes, such as promoting national laws that give everyone access to free or affordable contraception. We work with local governments to enforce laws that ban child marriage and we fight for girls’ rights to education and information on sexual and reproductive health. We always work together with the local communities and the families themselves.
- Why is Plan International Finland's campaign set in the fashion world?
- What is Plan International Finland’s goal with this campaign?
- Why are you using a real, pregnant girl in the campaign?
- How does Plan take care of Fridah, who models in the campaign?
- What is child motherhood and how is it different from teenage motherhood?
- What is the source of the data and figures used in the campaign?
- How are girls affected by child and teenage motherhood?
- Why is child marriage a problem?
- How can I help child mothers and what can I do to prevent child motherhood?
- What does Plan do to prevent child motherhood?
- What does Plan do to promote girls’ rights?
- How to talk with children about child motherhood and the problems girls face?
- Is the maternity clothing line going to be sold somewhere?
- What will the money be used for if I make a donation through the campaign?
Why is Plan International Finland’s campaign set in the fashion world?
We want to highlight a worldwide problem in a surprising and interesting way in order to raise awareness on child pregnancy. Every year more than seven million girls living in developing countries become mothers under the age of 18, two million of them under the age of 15. The maternity clothing line is a way of bringing up this social injustice girls face. Children’s clothing line designed to be worn during pregnancy is itself a contradictory item. It is a product the world should not need in the first place.
What is Plan International Finland’s goal with this campaign?
We are fundraising in order to provide protection and education to girls in the developing world. With this campaign, we hope to welcome new sponsors and donors to join our mission to improve lives of girls and children in the developing countries. We are also trying to raise awareness on girls’ rights and difficulties they face as well as encourage people to take action themselves to help improve girls’ rights.
Why are you using a real, pregnant girl in the campaign?
Because we are a children's rights organisation and our activities are based on transparency, we want to make our campaigns from the most authentic starting point as possible. Child motherhood is a real problem and we want to display the problem with the help of a real child mother. The staff of Plan International looked for and contacted young, pregnant girls in Zambia on areas where Plan works. The model of our campaign is Fridah, who became pregnant at the age of 12 years old. She and other child mothers featured in the campaign are taking part in it voluntarily and with the approval of their families. They have received explicit information on the use of the materials.
How does Plan take care of Fridah, who models in the campaign?
Fridah goes regularly to a local health clinic to get health check ups and she is going to give birth in a hospital like all under 18-year-olds do in Zambia. Local Plan International is also providing support to Fridah and her family. We are going to stay in touch with Fridah and her child to see how they are doing even after the campaign ends and we will work to ensure that Fridah continues her education and pursues her dreams of becoming a nurse.
What is child motherhood and how is it different from teenage motherhood?
Child mothers usually mean girls, who give birth under the age of 15. In international and national statistics 15-49 –year-old females are seen as fertile, but every year approximately two million girls become mothers under the age of 15. 15-19 –year-old girls becoming mothers are usually called teenage mothers.
However, everyone under the age of 18 is a child, so the number of children becoming mothers every year is a lot bigger than two million. Approximately 7.3 million girls in developing countries become mothers before they turn 18.
What is the source of the data and figures used in the campaign?
Our numbers and data are from statistics published by WHO, Unicef, UNFRA and World Bank from the previous years.
How are girls affected by child and teenage motherhood?
Children get pregnant because of child marriages or violence, or just because they don’t have enough knowledge or services regarding sexual and reproductive health.
Most of the child and teenage mothers have been married as a child. Either they have a baby because they got married, or their parents forced them to get married after they got pregnant. Child mothers rarely have the chance to make decisions about their own bodies or get information about health, birth control or pregnancy.
Becoming pregnant is often very shameful for the girls. Unsafe abortions, that are often also illegal, cause health problems and deaths. Conflicts and disasters increase the risk of getting pregnant, because the unsafe circumstances increase the amount of child marriages, violence and rapes.
Young mothers are at great risk of suffering from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. This is also a risk for the baby.
Why is child marriage a problem?
Every year around 15 million girls get married under the age of 18, some as young as at 10 years old. Many of them quit school to get ready for the wedding or to earn enough money for the dowry. Once married, the girls are often not allowed or capable of continuing with their studies.
The consequences of child marriages can also be seen from the next generations. The daughters of young and uneducated mothers are at even greater risk of quitting school and getting married at a young age.
Child marriages and forced marriages are human rights violations. They are not questions about culture, and neither are other harmful religious, cultural or social traditions. Many child marriages are forced marriages because usually the girls don’t have a say about the marriage. In many cultures child marriages are a norm, so the girls agree to get married because they feel obliged to.
Child marriages are often illegal as many countries have officially outlawed marriage under the age of 18. Boys suffer from child marriages too.
How can I help child mothers and what can I do to prevent child motherhood?
The best way to help is to donate. This allows us to keep working for girls' rights in the developing countries. By becoming a sponsor or a monthly donor you directly support our work to protect girls and promote their education.
You can also help by sharing information in social media and telling about the campaign to your peers, family and coworkers. By becoming a volunteer for Plan International, you can promote girls’ rights and draw people’s attention to the difficulties they face.
What does Plan do to prevent child motherhood?
We inform young people and their parents about birth control and sexual health to prevent young people getting pregnant.
We work on preventing child marriages and sexual violence by affecting laws and their enforcement as well as promoting changing attitudes in communities. Preventing child marriages is a key to preventing children getting married because most of child and teenage mothers have been married as a child.
We also work with the communities to support girls, who become mothers at a very young age. Plan International has educated staff and volunteers who offer support and concrete help, such as health care, early childhood education and schools, for the young mothers and their children.
We educate children and support groups of children, that work to prevent harmful traditions and to promote equality for girls and boys.
What does Plan do to promote girls’ rights?
We promote girls’ rights in over 70 countries we work in. We focus on girls’ rights, because girls all around the world are discriminated for their age and gender. We want all children to have equal opportunities in life.
We take into account girls’ situation and special needs in all our programs, for example by promoting girls’ access to early childhood education and school, offering humanitarian help, preventing harmful traditions such as genital mutilation and child marriage and promoting girls’ skills in technology and opportunities to take part in decision making.
We also work to influence decision makers from village chiefs to UN leaders to improve girls’ rights and to change the attitudes in societies to become favourable for girls’ rights.
Our goal is to get 100 million girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive by 2022.
How to talk to children about child motherhood and the problems girls face?
We understand the campaign may lead to your child questioning what child motherhood means. One way to talk about the topic with children is to discuss it together and work out how child motherhood could be prevented and what could be done to help girls with difficulties they face. It might be helpful to explain that girls who get pregnant so young can’t play or go to school anymore. It might also be good to mention that the clothing line is not going to be sold anywhere and that it is just meant to highlight the problem of child motherhood.
Discussions about the best and most effective ways of preventing young girls becoming mothers, about how to support young mothers and about ways to promote girls’ rights by education and change in attitudes are also useful. Stories about positive change and accomplishments can be found on our website and in our Plan magazine. They can be read and discussed together with children, to show them that a lot of things have changed for the better.
Is the maternity clothing line going to be sold somewhere?
No. The clothing line was only created for Plan International Finland’s campaign, and the only copies of the clothes are going to be on display on a shop window in the center of Helsinki (Esplanadi 33). Our goal is to tell people about a problem that is affecting girls all around the world. Instead of actually producing maternity clothes for children, we try to prevent child motherhood and support girls, who have become mothers. In order to do this we need donations and help. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the problem so that people could join us in taking action for girls’ rights.
What will the money be used for if I make a donation through the campaign?
By becoming a monthly donor you are working with us to improve the lives of children, especially girls, in the developing countries. We focus on eight sectors: improving the quality of life of children on education, health, water and sanitation, protection, economic security, disasters, involvement of children as well as sexual and reproductive health. We keep you updated regularly about our work and results we've achieved with your help.
By becoming a sponsor you support not only your sponsor child but his or her whole community. With your donation we improve health care, education and child protection in the community. We plan and implement our improvements with the help of the local people. Often the local public officers and organisations are also working with us, which helps us the create a long-lasting change in the communities.
Single gifts and donations are used to protect and educate girls in the developing countries. You can follow the achievements of our work for example on our website, social media and Plan magazine.