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Celebrate Solutions: Youth as Agents of Change in Sierra Leone

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Every 10 minutes, an adolescent girl dies from violence somewhere in the world, according to a new UNICEF report. Think about that for a moment—in the timespan of an 8 hour workday, forty-eight girls will have died as a result of violence. And many more will suffer from the violence they face day after day, minute after minute. We may never truly know the exact number, due to the shame, stigma and sometimes dangerous repercussions girls face when they attempt to speak out. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Fighting Everyday Sexism for a Better Future for Girls

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

October 11th marked a significant day for girls around the world. International Day of the Girl Child, an annual event, calls attention to the most pressing issues facing girls today. This year’s focus, selected by UNICEF, focused on ending violence against girls. By highlighting the ways in which violence limits the choices and opportunities of girls, the internationally recognized observance engaged national governments with support from civil society, the private sector, media, young people, the United Nations, and men and women everywhere. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Girl Advocates Fighting Child Marriages in Malawi

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

Malawi is one of the top ten hotspots of child marriage worldwide, with five out of every ten girls married off before the age of 18. This is majorly attributed to strong taboos around child and early marriage practices such as the Kusasa Fumbi practice, in which girls (usually aged 10-12) who have just begun their menstrual cycles  have sex with a man as a way of removing “childhood dust;” Chitomero, another common practice that encourages parents to offer dowry to an older man who agrees to marry their young daughter; and kupimbira, a practice in the northern part of Malawi where a young daughter is married off as repayment for a debt.

These practices expose girls to HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), denying much the chance to finish school and exposing them to higher risks of maternal mortality due to early pregnancies. Child and early marriages violate a girl’s right to education and choice on who and when to get married, perpetuating poverty levels among various communities. 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...

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: Ghanian Girl Soccer Stars Change the Playing Field

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

When Eunice, Christiana, Francesca and Rose first joined the Plan International-sponsored soccer team for girls in their village in Ghana, they never expected that they’d one day be playing for the National Women’s Soccer Team. The soccer team requires players to be enrolled in school and provides leadership and life skills taining. Since the team was started in 2008, dropout rates for girls in the area have dropped by 80-90%. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Education for All: What’s Advocacy Got to Do With It?

By: Emily Teitsworth; Originally posted by Global Campaign for Education, U.S Chapter

Emily Teitsworth is the Director of Programs at Let Girls Lead and Champions for Change

Why are we failing to deliver on the promise of educating girls? In rural areas in Nigeria, surveys have found that at the end of 3rd grade, only 6 percent of students are able to read a simple sentence. In Malawi, it is illegal for pregnant girls and young mothers to return to school. In Guatemala, only 10 percent of rural girls complete secondary education.

Educating girls has been shown to strengthen families, reduce maternal mortality, and break intergenerational cycles of poverty. A single year of secondary education can increase a girl’s potential income by up to 25 percent, and significantly reduce the likelihood that she will become pregnant young or die in childbirth (World Bank, 2012).  In spite of significant investment and political will going towards expanding girls’ access to education, the global development community has not yet achieved the transformative promise of a world where both girls and boys receive free, quality education. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: A Nurse Midwife’s Experience with Leadership and Management

By: Sarah Dwyer, Communications Manager, CapacityPlus/IntraHealth International; Originally posted by the

This post is part of the “Supporting the Human in Human Resources” blog series co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and Jacaranda Health

“Things were really a bit appalling.”

That’s what conditions at her rural health center felt like to Habiba Shaban Agong, a senior nursing officer and midwife in Uganda.

She says she loves her profession. “In midwifery I do a lot,” she adds proudly. “I help mothers in carrying out their pregnancies. During deliveries I help them to conduct live babies—to make a better future.” But it pained her that her facility was not able to deliver the high quality of services the community deserved. 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...

Celebrate Solutions: Proof You Can Change the World

By: Tyler LePard, Catapult

With so much bad news lately (Israel-Gaza, the sexual assault and beating of a 17-year-old girl at Comic-Con, the ebola epidemic, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hobby Lobby case…), sometimes it can feel like the world is a dark and hopeless place. But there’s a bright light shining at Catapult—we’ve received an overwhelming number of one-year reports from Catapult projects, showing donors how their money was spent and the impact they’ve contributed to. It’s heartening to see evidence that small actions can add up to real change for girls and women around the world. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: “Dropping the Knife” Celebrations as Alternatives to FGM in The Gambia

By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

Bat mitzvah. Sweet sixteen. Quinceañera. Russefeiring. Ceremonies to celebrate rites of passage are often an energetic party, defining a coming of age moment and cultivating a sense of hope for the future. These celebrations also often serve as a marker of maturity and preparedness for the “real world.”

Yet for millions of girls, their rite of passage includes a serious violation of their basic human rights through female genital mutilation (FGM). Current trends suggest that at least 30 million girls will be at risk for FGM over the next decade. An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, with 92 million over the age of 10 and residing on the African continent. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Magic Bus Transports Youth Out of Poverty

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Shazia Malik grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Delhi, India, with little hope for her future. When Magic Bus arrived in her community, Shazia was excited to engage in its sports-based activities. Soon, she became a volunteer and led weekly training sessions in handball and football. “I enjoyed it,” . “I could play and also it made me feel like I was capable of something.” In 2011, she was offered a paid job as a Youth Mentor. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Using Mobile Phones to Combat Healthcare Inequality Worldwide

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

Supporting medicine and public health using mobile technology, also known as mHealth, is changing the landscape of healthcare service delivery in the world today. It is transforming lives of both health workers and communities by bringing technology to hard to reach areas.

Many health advocates, public health practitioners, social enterprises and civil society organisations have created mHealth solutions and implemented them in various parts of the world. Medic Mobile, a social entrerprise, is one such organization that is creating mobile tools and innovations to improve health and lives of people in rural areas worldwide since 2009. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: A True Story of A Child Bride from New York

By: Tyler LePard; Catapult

This year, 14 million girls – some as young as eight years old – will be married against their will, often to men decades older than themselves. Some girls are so young that they hold on to their toys during the wedding ceremony. The recent death of an eight year old Yemeni girl on her wedding night from internal bleeding, after a forced marriage to a man five times her age has caused a global outcry and re-energized commitment to ending this horrific human rights abuse. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Creating Education Opportunities for Girls in South Sudan

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Despite the recent atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan over the last two decades, the VAD Foundation and the Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS) have only become more committed to their mission of educating Sudanese young people, particularly girls.

Between 1983 and 2005, the turmoil of the civil war in Sudan killed two and a half million people and displaced nearly six million more. South Sudan gained independence in 2011, but faced a new wave of violence in December 2013. Due to this resurgence of fighting, many government agencies, aid organizations, and international companies have left the country for security reasons. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Bicycles as Vehicles for Change in Zambia

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Fifteen year-old Ethel used to walk more than two hours every day from her home in rural Zambia to reach her school. Last year, she received a bike from World Bicycle Relief that shortens her commute down to 45 minutes, allowing her more time and energy to learn and manage her many responsibilities. “When I received my bicycle, I was so excited,” Ethel told World Bicycle Relief. “Now I would have time to study, travel comfortably to school, and still help with chores... this bicycle has changed my life.” Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Reaching Some of China’s Most Vulnerable Young People

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Young people around the world often face barriers in accessing comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and services. That is why PATH and the China Family Planning Association implemented a comprehensive program to meet the needs and improve the health of China’s young people. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The ABC’s of Basic Integrated Health Care in Nigeria

By: Lindsay Menard Freeman, Women Deliver

Affordable, universal, and high-quality health care saves lives, saves time, and saves money. The Access to Basic Medical Care (ABC) program in Oyo State, Nigeria ensures free healthcare for residents from any of the 33 Local Government Councils of Oyo State. Every resident has a fundamental right to high quality and effective healthcare, and the ABC program is designed to extend basic healthcare solutions to the masses. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Providing Life-Changing Surgeries for Fistula Patients

By: Isabel Garcia, Catapult

Obstetric fistula—a hole in the birth canal resulting from prolonged or obstructed childbirth—is a preventable condition that leaves up to 100,000 girls and women each year, with life-long incontinence. As a result of the stigma associated with the condition, women living with fistula are often isolated, neglected or abandoned by family and community, and left to rely on the charity and mercy of others. The Tamale Fistula Centre in northern Ghana, which is supported by UNFPA, provides life-changing surgeries for girls and women facing this condition. Through Catapult, they raised the funds needed to provide 136 gynecological surgeries in 2013, 81 of which were fistula repair surgeries. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Scoring Big for Mothers and Babies in Malawi

By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver

Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with one in 36 pregnant women dying from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Many of these women die from hemorrhage, one of the leading causes of maternal death worldwide. An increase in blood supply, especially at rural health clinics, has the potential to save the life of a mother experiencing hemorrhaging. In an innovative push to save lives, the Silver Strikers Football Club partnered with MamaYe Malawi and Malawi Blood Transfusion Services (MBTS) earlier this month to organize a football match and blood drive to raise awareness and to collect 59 units of blood for health clinics.

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