Being a parent is difficult, but being a parent when you’re still a kid is a harsh reality for too many girls worldwide.
Having a child underage affects every part of a girl’s life and future.
It often means dropping out of school, cutting short girls’ educational and career opportunities.
It also means heightened health risks for both young moms and their babies. Every year, an estimated 70,000 girls aged 10 to 19 die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth -- and an alarming one million kids born to teen moms don’t make it to their first birthday.
Yet, young mothers are often invisible in national and global statistics, and are often overlooked in development interventions, since the reproductive age of women is often considered to be between 15 and 49 years old, according to Plan International.
Here are the stories of five very young moms whose lives were upended by early parenthood.
1. She Had To Drop Out Of School After Having Her Baby
“I didn’t want to have a child -- it happened anyway, despite our efforts to protect ourselves. When I discovered I was pregnant, I felt happy and sad at the same time. Happy for the baby, and sad because I knew I had to drop out of school.” -- Janet, 15, in Colombia
2. She Almost Lost Her Life Giving Birth
“I lost a lot of blood during my delivery because my placenta didn’t come out. I was sent to the hospital with the ambulance, where I got seven bags of blood infusions.
No one had told me about the risks of being a young mother. Now I don’t want any more children.” -- Keya, 14, in Bangladesh
3. She Was Raped And Had To Live With Her Perpetrator’s Parents
“After my primary school exam, I called my teacher to get the results. Then, since he had my number, he kept calling and asked me to come and see him. I said I wouldn't go. One day, he threatened me. So I got frightened and went there to get the results of my exam. Then he raped me.
My parents and his parents agreed that his family should take care of me until the delivery. So I was living with them for five months, until I had the baby.
Before the baby, I was attending school. Now, when I see my friends going to school, it makes me sad. Very sad. I wanted to be a mother later – not now.” -- Aïssa, 15, Burkina Faso
4. Her Baby’s Father Got To Stay In School, But She Didn’t
“My dream is to go back to school; I liked it so much. I had a group of friends that I went to school with, where we would perform and sing. It’s sad to see my friends going to school and I can’t go.
Even my boyfriend continues to go to school like before while I need to stay at home. My one wish is that my son will get an education.” -- Angelica, 13, in Haiti
5. Playing With Her Baby Makes Her Feel Like A Kid Again
“It's so difficult to take care of a child when you are a child yourself. I have to take care of my children and my husband at the same time. I don't have any free time.
But my oldest son does many funny things. I like to play with him because then I feel like a child too. When we play, it feels like he is my friend, not my child.” -- Amira, 15, refugee camp in Jordan