When I became CEO of Mother’s Choice in 2012, we had been delivering sex education in schools for over 10 years, but our team running the programs were responsible both for services supporting teenagers facing crisis pregnancy, and teaching sex education in high schools. The crises always took priority, and the sex education programs did not have the depth and impact that we hoped for. In 2014, I introduced a new department to focus on prevention, hired an experienced Family Planning Project Manager, trained teachers (rather than social workers, as were previously used), and introduced a new curriculum to deliver Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools
My parents co-founded Mother’s Choice when I was nine years old, and throughout my teenage years I met many girls the same age as me who were facing a crisis pregnancy. While I was preoccupied with friends and school, they were making decisions about their pregnancies, and their futures. I was so inspired by their courage, and my heart broke for them to be in this position. This sparked my passion for family planning, and I’m grateful that I was exposed to this from such a young age.
One of the most devastating challenges I have experienced is the cycle of crisis pregnancy through the generations. We see teenage girls who choose to parent their own babies without support, who end up placing their children into institutional care. These children are then more likely to become pregnant as teenagers themselves. We needed to disrupt this cycle and introduced a program to mentor our teenage moms, give them sexuality education and provide support when they need it.
Hong Kong’s biggest challenge in family planning is that our culture does not like to talk about sex and relationships. Sex education in schools is minimal, and its focus is on abstinence and the negative consequences of having sex. By delivering more comprehensive sexuality education, we’re sharing openly about topics including decision making, healthy friendships and relationships. We’re also running more parenting workshops to encourage families to start the conversation with their children.
In five years, I want to see evidence of reduced instances of teen crisis pregnancy in Hong Kong. I not only want to see fewer crisis pregnancies in Hong Kong, but I also want to see teens who experience a crisis to receive the support they need so that the cycle does not continue. In the next five years, I want to see our Comprehensive Sexuality Programs delivered in 100% of schools with high teenage pregnancy rates.