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Why Sexual Rights Are Important

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

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

My project, the Concern Women International Development Initiative, seeks to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS among female sex workers (FSW) and their clients in Benue State Nigeria. To do this, we trained FSWs to be peer educators, conducted interpersonal communication capacity-building to reach clients of FSW and non-brother-based FSW, held sensitization workshops on FSW-friendly services for 10 private providers, and translated informational and educational materials on HIV and STIs into local dialects. Read more...

The Power of Peer Education

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

By: Humphrey Nabimanya, Reach a Hand Uganda

From a survey that we at RAHU conducted last year, nearly 85% of young people, ages 15-24, think that there is a need for them to whether freely access information on sexual and reproductive health. Young people face issues like unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and cross-generational sex and, therefore, require full access to sexual and reproductive health information and services to protect themselves.

In January 2014, we started the first ever Peer Education Academy in Uganda - a unique initiative to empower young people with life development skills, self-awareness skills, and sexual reproductive health and rights information. Through this program, we trained 50 young people (23 female and 27 male) in peer education; counseling and guidance; sexual and reproductive health and rights; drug, alcohol, and substance use; and integration of social media and sexuality education. Read more...

When Challenges Turn Into Highlights

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

By: Tunde Ajidagba, Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

Although I faced some difficulties in implementing my project, there were also some highlights. The first was the reception of the SMS services. The text messaging campaign was the first of its kind on campus and the students were excited about it and really wished it could continue. We also had a positive reaction to the educational and informative pamphlet we produced. We have been getting positive feedback since we started distribution and it has been very encouraging.

Another highlight of my project initially started out as a challenge. When my project site at Obafemi Awolowo University was forced to close down due to strikes, we had to look for another school to continue. Just as my project was set to come to a close, the school re-opened and the HIV counseling and testing services and Campus Health Forum were brought back to the school. Read more...

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...

Creating an Enabling Environment for Youth to Access SRHR Information and Services

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

By: Humphrey Nabimanya, Reach a Hand Uganda

According to statistics from the Uganda Demographic and health survey, the teenage pregnancy rate stands at 24%.  This means one in four teenage girls is pregnant or has had a child. Due the negative attitudes towards sexuality education in schools from School Management and Governance Boards, young people have limited access to accurate information and youth-friendly services while in school. 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...

Girls and Women Need Access to Education and #SRHR to Become Fully Empowered

New impact evaluation (IE) briefs released by the World Bank Group (WBG) highlight the best global strategies to empower girls and women in the world today. Published on August 11th in anticipation of International Youth Day on August 12th, the briefs shed light on interventions tackling current social issues young people, especially girls and young women, face, and showcase what works best to empower them.

The IEs support WBG’s twin corporate goals that aim to educate, empower and employ today’s generation of young people, the largest ever in decades. The briefs, also accessible through enGENDER IMPACT,   echo multiple approaches and strategies in addressing three critical social issues: ensuring access to education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ending child marriages.

According to the WBG, the IEs take a deeper independent analysis of each of these social issues, giving recommendations on what works best in all the intervention areas. Below are excerpts from the IEs: 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...

Young People: Our Present and Our Future

By: Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

Nelson Mandela once said: "Whenever I am with young people, I feel like a recharged battery." I couldn't agree more, after having spent the last couple of days with a good bunch of the Women Deliver Young Leaders at the Partnership on Maternal, Child and Newborn Health (PMNCH) Partners' Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

When young people tell me what motivated them to advocate for girls' and women's health and rights, their stories are at once heartbreaking and inspiring. For Yemurai Nyoni in Zimbabwe, it was a 12-year-old girl named Tecla who was sold into marriage and contracted HIV. For Mary Mwende in Kenya, it was the violence of male-dominated politics that she witnessed as a child in the slums of Mombasa. When faced with injustice, these young leaders took action to improve the world around them -- and their stories, in turn, inspire others. 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...

FRESH - Fully and Richly Empowered about Sexual Health

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

By: Nargis Shirazi, FRESH Campaign (Uganda)

“I cannot use a condom. Condoms cause cancer in the long run. I prefer to go live!”

I gasped when one of my acquaintances said this. I know the picture you have in your head… a rural girl with unkempt hair and dirty nails who had dropped out of school. Well that’s not quite it – let me paint the picture. These words came from an intelligent lawyer who has been practicing for more than three years. She wears high heels, speaks with confidence and is currently working toward her master’s degree. That myth was actually embedded in the mind of what society would call “a learned individual!” Read more...
 

Celebrate Solutions: Update from Nigeria

By: Tyler LePard, Catapult

This report is from The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), a beneficiary of the Support Girls’ Education project funded by Catapult. Their team travelled to Maiduguri, Borno State, from May 13-18, 2014, to assess what the communities in the region need following the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Now that they’re safely back from their mission to Borno State, we’re able to share the name of our partner organization, KIND.

It was a difficult and dangerous trip. The team overcame harassment at the many security check-points and witnessed the physical devastation in multiple areas. Working closely with a local organization and a leading advocate for women in the region, they met with a girl who escaped from her Boko Haram kidnappers, women survivors of violence, families of kidnapped girls, school leaders, and government officials.

KIND provided us with an incredibly powerful and authentic update, documenting the reality on the ground in Borno State. It’s long and detailed, and clearly identifies the needs in the area. Read more...

Campus-Based Initiative Delivers SRH Information and Services to University Students in Nigeria

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

By: Ajidagba Emman Babatunde (Tunde), Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

Every year in my home country of Nigeria, there are 6.8 million pregnancies. Approximately one in five of them are unintended. There are 3.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 60% of new infections occur among young people ages 15 to 24. One reason for these staggering numbers is the low level of contraceptive use among young people, who encounter socio-cultural barriers that prevent them from accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Having worked for over 10 years in the field of young adults’ sexual and reproductive health, I have seen firsthand the challenges that young people, particularly those in university settings, confront. They include engaging in risky behaviors like having transactional sex, unprotected sex, and sex with multiple partners, as well as facing the threat of sexual violence. Read more...

Plan at Hand Empowers Girls in Tanzania

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)

It all started with three questions: “Why is she left out? What are the key barriers? And, what can be done to effectively change the situation?” The expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls, many of which never return, has continued to widen the gender gap and deprive adolescent girls of the right to education in Tanzania. Issues surrounding sexuality are treated with secrecy and it remains taboo to talk about sex or to be sexually active before marriage. Therefore, teenage pregnancies continue to sky rocket. Pregnant adolescents are viewed as brides, not girls. Alternatives to abstinence are highly inaccessible, as girls need parental consent to access any family planning services. Beyond that, barriers to services include cost, location of the provider, a lack of complete and correct information, and social-cultural barriers, like restrictive norms associated with adolescent girls’ sexuality and provider’s bias. Clearly, there is a dire need for a unique, inclusive, and girl-friendly family planning and reproductive health program in Tanzania, and particularly in Muheza District in Northern Tanzania. Read more...

Young People for Young People: Peer Education in Uganda

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

By: Humphrey Nabimanya, Reach a Hand Uganda

Today, there are more young people under the age of 30 than ever before, representing half the world’s population. This demographic has been strongly affected by HIV/AIDS. Uganda's youth are estimated to represent 78% of the total population, and this is the age group that is most affected by HIV/AIDS. High-risk, sexually active women account for 36% of youth, while high-risk sexually active men account for 49%. Related to these behavioral challenges are unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and cross-generational sex that are grossly exploitative, especially for the girl child. Young people therefore require full access to reproductive health services and information to protect themselves. Read more...

New World Bank Report Calls for More Action to Achieve Equality of Girls and Women

A new report released by the World Bank, entitled “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity” presents new evidence about the key constraints withholding girls and women worldwide from achieving their full potential to benefit their families and communities.

One critical highlighted point is that girls’ access to education plays an essential role in shaping their future and enhancing their ability to implement decisions and choices, even when gender norms are limiting. The report reveals that girls with no access to education are six times more likely to get married as children, causing them to live in extreme poverty and denying them a voice at household level. This contributes to prevalent  levels of gender-based violence—one of the key constraints listed in the report. Read more...

Women Deliver: Stand by Our Girls

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

One month ago today, terrorists took more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls from their families. Since then, the global community has rallied together to call on our governments to bring them home. This outpouring of support for the girls and their families is truly remarkable. Every tweet, every blog post and every protest is keeping this issue at the top of the global agenda, and we cannot stop until these girls are safely home.

For far too long, girls have faced extraordinary barriers to education, from the Taliban’s assault on Malala Yousafzai to cultural traditions that force girls into marriages instead of into classrooms. Despite this, girls in Nigeria and around the world continue to exercise their right to learn. If there is anything we can take away from this tragedy, it is the bravery, strength and determination that each of and every one of these girls has exhibited in pursuit of her education. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Training Teachers to Empower Girls in Nepal

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

Education to any child, especially a girl, positively impacts their health, life, and community. Yet, many from the developing world still see it as a dream, and many who do have  access have had a poor-quality education. The 11th EFA Global Monitoring Report  reveals that access to education is not the only crisis–poor quality is holding back learning even for those who make it to school, limiting children’s cognitive outcomes as well as their ability to develop skills and broaden their intellectual capacity. Among other factors, a lack of well - trained teachers  is one of the major causes of this. Read more...

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