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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...

Global Leaders Celebrate Two Decades of Progress for Girls and Women

Yesterday, the opening day of the 47th session of the United Nations (UN) Conference on Population and Development (CPD), Women Deliver and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in support of Every Woman Every Child, co-hosted an event in New York to call for political commitments to and investments in girls’ and women’s health and rights. This reception commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, Egypt, where global leaders issued a visionary consensus prioritizing the health and rights of women and young people, including their sexual and reproductive health. Read more...
 

Celebrate Solutions: WASH Helps Girls Learn in Zambia

By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

There is a clear link between a girl’s access to quality education and her ability to live a healthier, more productive life. We also know that one of the major reasons why girls drop out of school is that they lack of access to sanitary facilities and supplies. Without access to basic menstrual supplies and sanitation, girls’ health and educational opportunities are marginalized. The long-term consequences of this preventable reality for girls create a ripple effect among their communities and, collectively, the global economy. Read more...

Young #WomenInspire us to #InvestInGirls

By Lindsay Menard-Freeman; Originally posted on Huffington Post

March is an exciting time to celebrate girls and women. Women's History Month commemorates the pioneers of women's rights and equality, past and present. International Women's Day encourages us all to continue the fight for women's rights around the world. And this week, the United Nations 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women revives our commitments to build a better future for girls and women everywhere.

This March, however, also marks a particularly critical time for women's health and rights: For the first time in over a decade, we have an opportunity to shape a brand new global development agenda. The 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) generated unprecedented political will and funding for girls' and women's health and rights. Unfortunately though, the MDGs are quickly coming to an end just when we are beginning to gain momentum. Read more...

‘PODER’: A Story of Girls Overcoming

By Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Denise Dunning is the Founder and Executive Director of Let Girls Lead and Champions for Change

Girls around the world rarely have the opportunity to tell their stories and speak their truth to a global audience. That reality is about to change with the global film premiere of 'PODER,' a compelling short documentary about girls' power to transform their own lives, families, communities and the world.

'PODER' is the engaging story of Elba and Emelin, two indigenous Guatemalan girls who overcame poverty and discrimination to transform a community of over 26,000 people, and their nation of 14 million. Unlike many documentaries that depict girls as powerless victims, 'PODER' captures girls as leaders and powerful agents of change. Read more...

It Takes Two to Launch Family Planning Campaign at Third Annual International Women’s Day Concert

5,000 people expected to attend concert to promote girls’ and women’s health and rights

Kampala, Uganda, February 26 – It Takes Two will launch its national youth-focused family planning campaign at Talent Africa’s International Women’s Day concert on March 8. The concert will recognize the importance of women’s health and rights, and feature performances by international and local female artists, including Nyanda, Cindy Sany, Lilian Mbabazi and Irene Ntale among others. Read more...

Denise Dunning Unlocks Girl Power Through Let Girls Lead

By: Stacy Teicher Khadaroo; Originally posted by The Christian Science Monitor

To help girls stay in school, women and girls in Malawi are taking a stand against child marriages. So far they have persuaded leaders in 22 villages to penalize men who try to marry a woman under age 21. One possible penalty? Taking away some of the man's goats or chickens.

It's the kind of strategy that probably wouldn't have occurred to a US-based nonprofit. But in countries where girls and women bear the brunt of poverty, Let Girls Lead, an Oakland, Calif.-based initiative founded by Denise Dunning, helps them amplify their voices and broaden their hopes, turning small victories into large-scale changes. Read more...

Girls: The World’s Greatest Return on Investment

By Dr. Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists

My mom is from Argentina, and we often spent Christmas holidays there while I was growing up. When I was 12, I was riding on a train with my parents to spend Christmas Eve with family friends living outside of Buenos Aires. The mood on the train was festive – everyone was dressed up and many carried holiday gifts. At a station about 20 minutes outside the city, I saw a teenage girl board the far end of the train. The girl, only a couple years older than me, was carrying a baby and dragging a toddler along behind her. They were ragged and very poor – their faces were streaked with dirt and their clothes were torn. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Education Opportunities for Girls in Rural Honduras

By: Katia Gomez, Executive Director, Educate2Envision

According to UNESCO, only 28% of rural youth 15-25 years have completed a secondary school education compared with 60% of those from urban areas in Honduras. This truth is complicated by the fact that more than half of the secondary school age population resides in rural areas.

Aside from the average four hour walk round trip to reach the nearest secondary school and the total cost incurred by households to send their children to class equipped with all necessary supplies, the lack of opportunity for young people to gain practical leadership skills and play a direct role in developing their communities is a critical barrier to confronting generational poverty. This holds true especially for girls who must break free of the gender norms that are perpetuated daily in their isolated surroundings. Read more...

New Study Shows Access to Information and Services Does Not Lead to Sexual Risk Taking

A new study in Pediatrics has found that young women who are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not participate in riskier sexual behavior as a result. HPV is the most common STI in the United States and the leading cause of cervical cancer. These findings show, again, that providing young people with sexual and reproductive health information and services is not linked to riskier sexual behavior. Read more...

World Economic Forum Event on Investing in Girls

This week, approximately 2,500 global leaders, key decision-makers, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and youth from around the globe have gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Over the next few days, participants will discuss this year’s theme, The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business. The meeting presents a tremendous opportunity to shape global policy through advocacy events, such as the United Nations Secretary-General's MDG Advocacy Group event Scaling Up Success: Investing in Girls’ Empowerment for MDG Acceleration. Read more...

CFR Launches Interactive Guide on Child Marriage

Originally posted by Council on Foreign Relations

A new interactive guide from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) examines the threat that child marriage poses both to the prosperity and stability of the countries in which it is prevalent and to U.S. development and foreign policy interests. "Child marriage is linked to poor health, curtailed education, violence, and instability, and perpetuates an intergenerational cycle of poverty that is difficult to break, as the InfoGuide shows," said CFR Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy Rachel B. Vogelstein, formerly director of policy and senior adviser on global women's issues at the U.S. State Department. "Its effects harm not only girls but entire families, communities, and economies—and U.S. interests around the world." Read more...

The Most Inspiring Women and Girls I Met This Year

By: Melinda Gates, Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

Nargis Shirazi, featured in the article below, is one of Women Deliver's 100 Young Leaders selected to attend the Women Deliver 2013 Conference.  
 
One of the things I love about my job is the women and girls I meet as I travel around the world and around the country — from high-ranking government officials to mothers in remote villages in northern India to high school teachers in the Bronx. I'm struck by the common goals and aspirations that they share. They want to create a better future for themselves, their children, and their families. They want to improve their own communities, and also aspire to create change at a national and global scale. Read more...

 

 

Start 2014 In The ‘Rights’ Direction

By: Tyler LePard, Catapult; Originally posted on Huffington Post

Girls and women are disproportionately more affected than men by armed conflict, sexual violence, injury, death, intimidation, and human trafficking. Yet less than 7.5 percent of private foundation funding goes towards girls and women's rights, and two years ago one in four of women's organizations were in danger of closing.

That's why we started Catapult, the first crowdfunding platform dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women around the world. We aim to make a real difference and to use the power of the internet to connect people who care about justice with trusted organizations that are working issues like reproductive rights, child marriage, and girls education, and desperately need financial support. Read more...

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