According to Dr. Matilde Molina Cintra, deputy director of the Center for Demographic Studies (Cedem) at the University of Havana, although in the last two years teenage motherhood decreased, the contribution of mothers of these ages to Cuba’s overall fertility increased.
“If in 2019 the births from mothers between 15 and 19 years of age represented 16.7 percent of total births in the country, in 2020 that figure rose to 17 percent and in 2021 to 17.1,” she said in an interview published on the Cubadebate website.
She added that in those two periods not only fewer babies were born to teenage mothers, but also pregnancies decreased, including those that did not reach full term and were interrupted by different means.
The expert pointed out that one of the causes of this decrease could be the different forms of confinement forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to “fewer unions and marriages, frequency and initiation of sexual life at those ages and more control by the family over the girls’ leisure time and their contacts with people outside the home.”
A previous research work by Molina Cintra confirmed that in Cuba’s case, early pregnancy is concentrated between 17 and 19 years of age, and the provinces of Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguin and Granma show indicators above the national average (51.5 births per 1,000 women under 20 years of age at the end of 2020).
For her part, Dr. Reina Fleites, professor of the Department of Sociology at the University of Havana, explained that although Cuba’s rural areas have made progress in terms of empowerment strategies, they still do not provide all the employment opportunities for women, support services for domestic work or school reinsertion in cases of dropouts.
During a panel at the International Congress of Researchers on Childhood, Adolescence and Youth, the expert pointed out that many adolescents choose a motherhood project based on the belief that it is a way of migration, improving their well-being, leaving poverty or the family of origin, or they believe they will achieve emancipation.
Studies conducted by Fleites indicate that early motherhood occurs more in mestizo and black adolescents who live in rural areas and are disconnected from school or work, and in low-income housing, in precarious conditions, Cubadebate reported.
On April 1, Cuba started the 2022 National Fertility Survey (EFN-2022), which will involve adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age and will consist of a module of questions, because although the purpose is to boost fertility in the country, it is not intended to increase pregnancies in those periods of life.