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Akshaya Tritiya: Hotbed of Child Marriages

By: Chaitra Arjunpuri; Originally posted on Al Jazeera

AlJazeera_AkshayaTritiya.jpgI am one of those unfortunate Hindu women whose hard lot is to suffer the unnameable miseries entailed by the custom of early marriage. This wicked practice of child marriage has destroyed the happiness of my life. It comes between me and the things which I prize above all others - study and mental cultivation. Without the least fault of mine, I am doomed to seclusion; every aspiration of mine to rise above my ignorant sisters is looked down upon with suspicion and is interpreted in the most uncharitable manner..."
- Extract from a letter written by a woman named Rukhmabai to The Times of India on June 26, 1885, reproduced in Child Marriage in India: Socio-legal and Human Rights Dimensions, by Jaya Sagade (Oxford University Press, 2005). Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Mobile Technology as Innovative Communication Channel for Reproductive Health

By: Eunice Namirembe and Bas Hoefman, Text to Change is a winner of the Women Deliver 50.

According to the Guttmacher Institute/IPPF publication Facts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescent Women in the Developing World, it is estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa, 67% of married adolescent women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using any method and about 12% are using traditional methods of family planning. They further state that 42% of unmarried, sexually active women are using no family planning method at all. This could be due to the fact that access to knowledge about contraceptive methods is a major barrier for young people in Africa. An added challenge is overcoming the common myths and misconceptions about contraception. Often, young people are reluctant to seek information or clarification about contraception from a clinic setting because of concerns around privacy and confidentiality, cost of services, and provider biases. Convenience of clinic locations and hours of operation is another challenge for many young people.  Read more...

Don’t Forget the Girls

By: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund; Originally posted on Huffington Post

As the father of four daughters and as the Executive Director for UNFPA, a leading UN agency working on maternal health, it warms my heart to see that safe motherhood and women's reproductive health are finally being recognized as important development issues.

Sadly, millions of women in developing countries still lack even the most basic care during pregnancy and too often have no one to assist during births. As a result, 1,000 women die every day from complications in pregnancy or childbirth, and countless others suffer debilitating injuries, such as obstetric fistula. Moreover, 215 million women still lack access to modern contraceptives and are, therefore, unable to make fundamental decisions about whether or when to become pregnant. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Traditionally Attending Birth – Promoting Maternal Health Today

By Kate Ixer; Health Poverty Action is a winner of the Women Deliver 50.

TBAHealthPovertyAction.JPGIn April 2010, Sierra Leone introduced free health care for pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers to help reduce the maternal mortality and morbidity rate. Almost two years on from this watershed significant improvements have been made and many women have received the health care which they previously would not have been able to afford. Sierra Leone, a country where 70% of the population is living in extreme poverty, illustrates that free health care is crucial to improving women’s health rights. Read more... 

Corporate Buzz:  Safaricom and Huru International Provide Girls With Empowerment Kits

By: Smita Gaith, Women DeliverCB.jpg

Last month, the Safaricom Foundation, a charity funded by telecom provider Safaricom Limited and Vodafone Group Foundation, announced it would be supporting the Huru Re-usable Sanitary Pad Project. The project is run by Huru International, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kenya. 

Years of research have repeatedly demonstrated that the unavailability of sanitary pads plays a major role globally in young girls’ dropout rates and missed days of school. According to Huru’s website, many girls miss 3 to 4 days of school every month due to their menstrual period, and according to UNICEF, 1 in 10 girls in Africa do not attend school while menstruating.  This project supports initiatives that are already in place by the Government of Kenya, which has already pledged money towards providing free sanitary pads.  Read more...

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