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Women Deliver Young Leader Oumie Sissokho to Host Camp for Girls Affected by FGM

Women Deliver Young Leader Oumie Sissokho is a co-founder of The Girls’Agenda, a community-based organization in Gambia that empowers girls and women in areas like reproductive health, human rights, and life skills that protect girls and women from abusive relationships and forced and early marriages.

In August 2015, The Girls’ Agenda is partnering with For My Sister to host a summer Camp for 100 young women between the ages of 14 and 24. This intensive summer camp will focus on issues that affect the young women's well-being, progress, liberty, and freedom. The empowerment forum will focus on comprehensive sexuality education, leadership skill building, mentorship opportunities, and education on harmful traditional practices (with an emphasis on early marriage and female genital mutilation). Read more...

The Folly of Farring Pregnant Girls from School in Sierra Leone

By: Chernor Bah; Originally posted on Africa is a Country

Pregnant girls are now barred from school in my country Sierra Leone. The government has decided that as schools reopen this week for the first time since the vicious Ebola outbreak that has claimed over 10,000 lives – and plunged our country into fear, lock downs, economic and emotional pain – pregnant girls should simply stay away. Read more...

Youth Leaders: Prioritise Adolescent Health with Resources and Results

Youth leaders— 15 strong— gathered at the UNFPA offices in Kampala to share their recommendations on priorities for inclusion in the updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. Representatives of a wide range of interests from those of the Uganda Young Positives, to the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda to a teenage mother, the youth largely agreed on a need for the Global Strategy to focus on inclusivity – with a concerted effort to include the most vulnerable. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Boys Learning to Take a Stand against Violence in Kenya

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Violence against women is prevalent in Kenya. According to government data from 2008-2009, nearly half of Kenyan who have ever been married have been physically abused by husbands. The same survey showed that over half of women believe that men have the right to beat their wives.

Ujamaa Africa, whose mission is to promote health, personal security and economic empowerment for vulnerable women and children, is trying to change this. The organization is currently running a program called Your Moment of Truth, a project to end violence against girls and women in slums in Nairobi by encouraging adolescent boys to take action. Read more...

How Girl Activists Helped to Ban Child Marriage in Malawi

By: Denise Dunning & Joyce Mkandawire; Originally posted on The Guardian

Malawi has raised the legal marrying age from 15 to 18. A girls’ rights campaigner explains how advocates secured this victory

Malawi banned child marriage last week through new legislation that increases the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18, representing a major victory for girls in a country that has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. More than half of girls are married off as children, sometimes as early as the age of nine. Read more...

Ending Child Marriage in Malawi: A Roadmap to Sustainable Change

By: Emily Teistworth, Director of Programs, Let Girls Lead; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Malawi outlawed child marriage last week. Following more than five years of undaunted advocacy by Malawian girls, their allies and civil society leaders, the country's Parliament tabled and passed the "Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Bill," increasing the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 years. This legal victory is a huge step forward for girls' and women's rights globally. The fact that it has been a painfully slow step merely serves to underscore its vital importance. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Increasing Access to HIV Medicine with Bicycles

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

When Sizwe Nzima was a high school student in Cape Town, South Africa, he would pick up his grandparents’ HIV medications because they had difficulty getting to the clinic themselves. There were long lines and Mzima usually had to wait several hours and make multiple trips to the clinic to get the medicine. He even tried to bribe the pharmacists to speed up the process, but it didn’t work. This sparked an idea: an HIV medication delivery service.

Nzima did some research on the topic. He found that although some companies were delivering medicine to people’s homes, no one was servicing the city’s low-income neighborhoods – where unemployment is high and most people in makeshift homes. Nzima contacted the companies to find out why and was told that it wasn’t because the companies were not interested in working in these townships, but because they could not find the houses. Read more...

Improving SRHR Outcomes For Youth In Uganda Is Within Our Reach

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Wanzala E. Martin, Allied Youth Initiative – Uganda

In a bid to take the quest for improved sexual & reproductive health (SRH) outcomes for young people a notch higher, Allied Youth Initiative - Uganda (AYI - Uganda) conceived the Better-Quality Access for Youth (BAY) project idea to scale-up and deepen engagement around the issue. We have worked with partner organizations across the country over the last six months to advocate for meaningful investments in youth-focused SRH programs as a means to accelerate progress towards achieving the country’s local and international development targets by 2015. Through this initiative, we specifically targeted a diverse group of young people ages 15-30. Read more...

Why Are Women and Children Still Dying?

By: Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning, Founder and Executive Director, Let Girls Lead, Champions for Change, and Youth Champions Initiative; Originally posted by

Nigeria, one of the richest countries in Africa, also boasts one of the world’s highest rates of maternal, newborn, and child death.  One in 13 Nigerian women dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and one in 8 Nigerian children dies before their fifth birthday.

And Nigeria is not alone. The global realities are equally devastating – nearly three million newborn babies die annually, and 800 women die in childbirth every single day. That means that two women will die by the time you finish reading this article – assuming you read fast. Read more...

Can Young People End Child Marriage?

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Yemurai Nyoni, Bulawayo Youth Development Organization (Zimbabwe)

I remember the words of the Minister of Health from Zimbabwe on the sidelines of ICASA 2013, when I told him about the Rising Birds Project. He said, “I’d like to see how you plan to end child marriage in Zimbabwe, it’s a deeply complicated issue…” His response was devoid of excitement and, to me, it sounded more like a challenge to justify our project’s optimistic goal of ending the practice, which had taken hundreds of generations to establish, in just seven months. Read more...

 

Celebrate Solutions: Savings Clubs in Nigeria Promote Economic Independence for Women

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

In Zamfara state, a predominately Muslim region of Nigeria, women are traditionally dependent on their husbands, who are legally allowed to have up to four wives. Men are in control of their family’s resources, and it is difficult for women to have control over their own finances and that of their families. This fuels poverty and disempowerment, and contributes to the high disease burden, high fertility rate, and weak health systems for the more than four million people who live there. Read more...

For Freedom of Choice

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

Over the last several decades, there have been continuous efforts to promote and improve access to family planning and reproductive health services, especially in the developing world. Despite these efforts, unmet need for contraceptive is likely to grow by 40 percent in the next 15 years. In Tanzania, where almost half the female population is of reproductive age, 35% of married women still do not have their contraceptive needs met, and the total fertility rate of 5.3 is more than double the world average. In response, the Plan at Hand Girl Empowerment Project has worked over the last 6 months to bridge unmet family planning gaps among adolescents girls in the Tanga region through mobile phone SMS. This project provides girls with an opportunity that most of them term as ''one of its kind”, enabling them to discuss myths and religious misconceptions about reproductive health, and finally have correct information right at hand. Read more... 

Ramping Up Production: Providing Contraception to Millions More Girls and Women in Africa and Asia

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver

Last week I saw a good example of what it means to “walk the talk” - taking commitments made in big meetings and turning them into action that will potentially benefit millions of girls and women around the world. I participated in the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art production plant in Oss, Netherlands, that will provide 10 million contraceptive implants annually destined for use in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Read more...

Why Many Developing Countries Could Not Achieve MDGs 4 & 5: A Health Worker’s Perspective

By: Tunde Ajidagba, Women Deliver Young Leader, Nigeria; Originally posted by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition

In the past 15 years, there has been substantial achievement toward reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which seek to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Since 1990, the baseline year for the MDGs, child and maternal deaths both have decreased globally by around 50%, and contraception prevalence has increased from 55% to 63%. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Government Initiative Improves Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Ghana

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Although Ghana has one of the most progressive abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, mortality from unsafe abortion is still a problem. The 2010 maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Ghana was 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to an average MMR of 240 in the developing world. One of the largest contributors to maternal deaths are complications from unsafe abortions. The 2007 Ghana Maternal Health Survey estimates that approximately 40% of abortions are performed by untrained providers. Evidence also suggests that many health care providers are not aware of the abortion law. Others may feel that performing an abortion conflicts with their religious beliefs. This lack of knowledge, along with social stigma that surrounds women seeking an abortion, drives the practice underground, resulting in clandestine procedures that are often performed by untrained providers or attempts at a self-induced abortion. Read more...

Plan at Hand: A Success Story Against Challenges

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

To most effectively engage adolescent girls in their own healthcare decision-making, they must be approached on their own turf. The use of technology and social media is widespread among adolescents, and these tools have the potential to improve healthcare delivery and health outcomes.

Pregnancy among adolescent girls is prevalent in Tanzania, potentially leading to health and other complications. Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be born preterm, to be of low birth weight, and to have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than those born to older women. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: How Niger’s Traditional Leaders are Promoting Maternal Health

By: Joan Erakit; Originally posted by Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency

BANDE, Niger, Sep 11 2014 (IPS) - It is a long, 14-hour drive from Niger’s capital city Niamey to the village of Bande. And the ride is a dreary one as the roadside is bare. The occasional, lone goat herder is spotted every few kilometres and the sightings become a cause of both confusion and excitement since there aren’t any trees, or watering holes in sight. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Men Choose Circumcision to Protect Themselves from HIV

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Studies have shown compelling evidence that voluntary male medical circumcision (VMCC) can reduce a man’s risk of heterosexually contracting HIV by 60%, decrease the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and lower the risk of cervical cancer in female sexual partners. Therefore, it is no surprise that more than one million men and youth in sub-Saharan Africa have chosen to get circumcised to protect themselves.

With support from donors, a Jhpiego program has provided technical assistance and policy guidelines to deliver effective VMMC services. A signature characteristic of the project is the leading role of nurses in performing the procedure. This will build the capacity of health care workers around sub-Saharan Africa to continue to provide these services. Furthermore, the VMMC services are part of a broader package of comprehensive HIV-prevention services that also include screening and treatment of STIs, HIV testing, counseling and referrals, and condom promotion. Read more...

Young People Won’t Be Forgotten at Uganda’s First National Conference on Family Planning

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

As Uganda’s first annual National Conference on Family Planning (July 28-30) drew to a close, the presence and impact of the country’s young people was clear. With nearly 80% of Uganda’s population under the age of 30, it is a demographic group that the country cannot afford to leave behind any longer.

Youth activists started their hard work before the conference, with a two-day workshop on July 23 and 24 organized by It Takes Two and UNFPA Uganda. Under the theme of making universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services a reality for young people, the pre-conference’s nearly 100 participants were able to network with their peers, learn about their government’s commitments to SRH and youth, and strengthen their advocacy and communications skills. Representatives from the Ministry of Health, UNFPA Uganda, and PPD-ARO were all present to share how they are committed to helping Uganda’s young people realize their SRH. Read more...

Maasai Lead Way to Ending Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya

By: Sidi Sarro, Key Correspondents

On 22 July, the UK is hosting the first-ever Girl Summit, which aims to end female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage. Sidi Sarro reports on how Kenya’s Maasai community are embracing alternative rites of passage for their girls.

Dressed in colourful kangas (traditional wrappers) and adorned in brightly-coloured beads and a headdress, 13 year old Naserian steps out to receive her certificate. She is one of many Maasai girls who are undergoing a symbolic ceremony which ushers them into womanhood. The air is filled with festivities and there is a distinct aroma of roasting meat. Read more...

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