Childbearing is an important life course event and a decision to give birth has significant implication in contemporary society, especially if it occurs before the completion of schooling and predating the start of being gainfully employed. Globally, teenage pregnancy is more common among young people who have been disadvantaged in childhood and have low expectations of education or opportunities in the job market. Literature shows that youth living in poverty have higher teen pregnancy rate than the average population. Socio-economic circumstances seem to play a major role in the rates of teen pregnancy. Poor access to contraception and inconsistent or non-use of family planning services, a situation that prevails mostly among people of low socio-economic status, has been noted as major contributing factors to high rates of teenage pregnancy. Although family planning services are provided for free in South Africa, poverty, cultural believes and negative judgment by health care workers remain barriers to access. As a result giving birth at a young age becomes prevalent and often continues the cycle of poverty and in most cases women bear the brunt of the responsibility. Furthermore, teenage pregnancy has negative health outcomes for the expectant teenager as it increases risks of obstetrical complications and mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The study makes use of mixed methods in order to illustrate gender dynamics in reproductive lives of young people.

Author Biography

Monde Makiwane is a National Research Foundation rated scientist and a Research Director in the Human and Social Development (HSD) research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria, South Africa. Monde is also an Honorary Professor at the University of North West. He holds a Masters in Social Science in Sociology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a PhD in Demography from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has lectured undergraduate and graduate students at Walter Sisulu University. In addition, he has held two fellowships: one at Harvard University and another at the University of Pennsylvania. His areas of research interest include: intergenerational relations, youth, ageing, teenage sexuality, fertility, social security and migration. His publication record includes a number of international and national conference presentations and authoring and co-authoring a number of journal articles.

Ntombizonke A. Gumede is a Researcher in the Human and Social Development (HSD) unit of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in Pretoria, South Africa. She holds a Masters in Social Science in Sociology (narrative study of lives) from the University of the Free State. Prior to Joining the HSRC, she worked as an intern for National research foundation (NRF). She was also an academic facilitator (AFS) responsible for integrating developmental competencies with academic outcomes with a view to equipping students to achieve academic success in higher education for extended curricula in the Faculty of Humanities, Sociology Department. She has developed and delivered seminars and workshops in a wide variety of areas related to the family, children, role of gender in agricultural practices, equity and transformation. She has coordinated and managed projects, and is experienced in the design and implementation, and analysis of qualitative and quantitative research. Her areas of research specialization include participatory action methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), social demography and epidemiology, sexual and reproductive justice and freedom, belonging, mobility, media, heritage and redress.

Lien Molobela is a Masters graduate from the University of South Africa. She is currently enrolled for a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. She has completed both her undergraduate and honors degree in psychology at the University of Limpopo. She has previously worked at UNISA as a post graduate research assistant, and at the Aurum institute as a research assistant. Her fields of interest are Sexuality, Racism, Reproductive health and justice, HIV/AIDS, Gender identity, Land reform and restitution, Black feminism, Power, African epistemologies, Decolonization and Discourse analysis. Molobela Reabetswe has presented in local and international conference, the most recent being the International Society of Critical Health Psychology held in July 2015 at Rhodes.