This report is part of a larger study designed to shed light on the experiences of adolescent girls and young women in Vanuatu, Chuuk State and Tonga who face unplanned pregnancy and motherhood. The study also investigated traditional and contemporary knowledge and practices of fertility limitation, from the viewpoints of older women.
Rates of unplanned adolescent pregnancy are high in many Pacific Islands countries. Issues facing adolescent girls with regard to sexual and reproductive health are implicated in social, cultural and economic development, and in human rights imperatives in the region. Young women in the Pacific navigate sexual and reproductive decision-making in increasingly complex social and cultural contexts. Understanding the realities of unplanned pregnancy in Vanuatu requires attention to the lived experiences and perspectives of the young women and girls themselves.
In Vanuatu, 36 face-to-face interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted with girls and young women, aged 16–19 years, who have experienced unintended pregnancy and motherhood, and with women over the age of 50. Data was collected in the provinces of Shefa, Sanma and Tafea. Interviews enquired into personal family and relationship stories and relevant contextual information, including access to sexual and reproductive health services; enablers and constraints to decision-making and action; traditional knowledge and practices of fertility control; and the role of older women in these matters. The sample was non-random and therefore the findings describe this sample only and are not generalisable to the wider population.