In Burundi, 11 percent of adolescent girls are sexually active. According to UN figures, seven percent of adolescents have had at least one child.
The lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services means adolescents, particularly those in rural areas and marginalised communities, have little information on how the body works and limited access to contraception. As a result, there is a high prevalence of teenage pregnancy.
In Burundian culture, it is thought to be so shameful to be pregnant outside of marriage that the local Kirundi language does not have a word or expression to even describe a single mother. The mothers are ostracised by their community. They are kicked out of home and asked not to return to school. Their children are born without access to proper health, nutrition or education.
Burundi’s years of war left behind social and economic devastation including displacement, severe poverty, insecurity and a badly damaged economic infrastructure. Political violence that began in 2015 only made the already prevalent gender-based violence worse. Forty per cent of gender-based violence survivors are teenage girls and only around five per cent of cases are reported to the police.
In Burundi, women and girls continue to face multiple socio-cultural restrictions including the unequal distribution of resources, and unequal access to educational and economic opportunities.
Association des Mamans Célibataires pour la paix et le développement (AMC) was founded in 2004 to end gender discrimination and the exclusion of girls and women in education and the labour market.
AMC works in Burundi with girls and young women aged 13-22, with a particular focus on teenage and single mothers. The group supports access to education by working for the reintegration of young mothers in the classroom.
AMC runs empowerment workshops to help rebuild self-esteem and contribute to the reduction of exploitation caused by financial dependence, poverty or exile.
It provides girls and women with legal assistance, runs workshops and lectures informing them of their sexual and reproductive rights.
AMC runs a mobile clinic and encourages discussions on sexual and reproductive health and methods of contraception in a language accessible to young people. The organisation also set up a distribution centre where girls aged 12-22 are provided with free sanitary towels.
It also runs a free phone hotline through which it offers counselling and assistance, and runs campaigns targeting refugee camps and schools aimed at reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.
AMC has demonstrated a strong and comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by the communities it serves and its programmes reflect this. Girls are represented on the Board and in the organisation’s governance structure.