ICFP Op-Ed: “I didn’t know I could become pregnant after having sex for the first time”

I didn’t know I could become pregnant after having sex for the first time. I know that might sound ignorant and crazy, but where I come from it’s not unusual.

Growing up in the slums of Nairobi, my classmates and I floated in and out of school. Attendance largely depended on whether or not our families had enough money for school fees, and my family often didn’t. Even when I made it to class, I was too busy catching up on missed school work to attend the one-off sex education sessions. Back at home we didn’t have internet or TV so, like my classmates, almost everything I learned was from my friends.

That’s how I first learned about sex. I was 18 and it was something my friends told me I had to try. They didn’t warn me that I could get pregnant or explain what condoms were. So when I started getting fatter and fatter after having sex for the first time, I had no idea what was happening. It took me more than four months to realise I was pregnant. I was confused, jobless and I didn’t even have enough money to pay to give birth in a hospital.

Unfortunately, my story is all too common. Millions of bright young women around the world are unable to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities because they do not have access to the information and services they need to prevent or delay pregnancy.

Read the full op-ed by Mary Wanjiku Mwangi, a youth mentor for U-Tena in Kenya, at The Guardian.