#WorldPopulationDay - Invest in Teenage Girls

The thought of what transpired during her years as a teenager was a burden in the heart of Tina. It
was a bad pill she felt would never go through but will remain in her mouth as long as she lived. This is because it seemed impossible for her to get over the anger and pain that had filled her heart till date.
Growing up, she was a happy and bubbly young girl with lots of hope and aspiration for the future. In spite of the death of her close confidant –her mum, her father gave her reasons to remain hopeful by getting married to a woman who loved her so much. Things began to fall apart when her stepmother’s brother (an undergraduate in the university) came to spend some time with them. He complimented her beauty and secretly admired the beautiful young lady she was becoming. She innocently welcomed his compliments and fell for his tricks – he took advantage of the poor teenage girl sexually. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back as she distanced herself from her father and stepmother. They let her be as they thought it was the usual mood disorder common with teenage girls. She felt disappointed in the place she called home as no one seemed to see the beast in her exploiter. So in a bid to find solace outside home, she was pressured by friends into drugs. One thing led to another and here she finds herself – in a rehab home. The story is similar for many other females, some end up in worse situations because they came across exploiters rather than investors.
A teen is best described as a young person within ages 13-19. The teenage period precedes adulthood and is characterised by physical and emotional changes. Brain scans have shown that girls and boys process emotional stimuli differently. In the recognition of emotions, girls mature faster than boys - this makes them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. This period also expose teenagers especially girls to enormous challenges.
Many girls are forced into marriage and unprepared motherhood; compelling them to leave school and damaging their future plans. Others are left without basic information on health issues and their rights as humans. Many of such girls live in our homes as house helps, some live in our neighbourhood while others may be our family members. Due to their nature, they are the most vulnerable and deserve to be handled with care. If empowered, they will be given the opportunity to succeed and could turn around to become agents of change in their communities. Do not exploit them rather invest in the mothers of our tomorrow, INVEST IN TEENAGE GIRLS.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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