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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...

Women Deliver at the Sports for Development Conference 2014

This past weekend, Women Deliver’s Special Project Manager, Joanna Hoffman, attended and spoke at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) One Goal Sports for Development Conference. Hoffman spoke about Women Deliver’s work to advocate for investments in the health and rights of girls and women, and moderated two sessions on Maternal Health and Nutrition and on HIV/AIDS.

Speakers in these sessions included the UNAIDS Country Director for Vietnam, Dr. Kristan Schoultz; the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Singapore Office Director, Dr. Regina Moench-Pfanner; and former Women Deliver conference attendees Indu Capoor of the Center for Health, Education and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA), Aiza Baldonado of Y-PEER, and Women Deliver Young Leader Shreejana Bajracharya of the Bhaktapur Youth Information Forum. 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...

IPPF Launches a Global #SRHR Campaign

Today, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) launched a sexual and reproductive health and rights campaign to end stigma and promote people’s  rights to make key choices regarding their bodies and relationships.  Titled I decide, the campaign aims to get one million signatures to present to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in the summer of 2015 to push for action from global leaders.

The campaign will hold events with over 50 IPPF Member Associations worldwide in partnership with politicians, media, civil society and youth groups to highlight the situation of people who are not able to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights due to stigma, discrimination, or abuse. Events include a radio talk show in Liberia and an event featuring theatre sketches and documentary films in Palestine. Read more...

Parliamentarians at #IPCI2014 Advocate for Rights of Women, Girls and Youth

Women Deliver welcomes the strong outcomes of the 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI) held in Stockholm, Sweden on April 23rd-25th. This event that brough together parliamentarians from 125 countries served to reaffirm the strong consensus among global parliamentarians about the importance of positioning, population and development issues at the heart of the international development agenda.

A forward-looking and action-oriented  declaration called “Stockholm Statement of Commitment” was developed, under which parliamentarians unanimously advocated for the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, human rights, youth participation,  and gender equality. The statement builds upon the commitments from previous IPCI conferences in Ottawa, Strasburg, Bangkok, Addis Ababa and Istanbul. It also marks the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the end of the original ICPD mandate. 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...

The Power of Story

By Denise Dunning; Originally posted on Huffington Post

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

600 million girls living in poor countries around the world struggle to eat, go to school and see a doctor when they need one. Many of these girls suffer violence in their families and are married off as children to men three times their age. Although research demonstrates that girls are the key to ending global poverty, only two cents out of every dollar in international funding goes to programs supporting girls.

We're working to change that. One of the first and most important steps is changing societies' limiting gender narratives. Jennifer Siebel Newsom's Representation Project has led the movement to transform media representations of women and girls with the award-wining documentary "Miss Representation." The Representation Project has mobilized millions of people to use their voices to challenge the media's limiting portrayal of women and girls.Read more...

Youth-Led Project in Bangladesh Wins Online Voting Competition

Women Deliver is pleased to announce the “Social Rising for Dowry and Early Marriage Prevention” project by S M Shaikat from Bangladesh as the winner of the C-Exchange Seed Grant competition. After almost 1,500 people voted, S M Shaikat will receive an additional US$500 to implement his project to monitor and prevent early marriage and dowry violence. This competition was held with the support of the Women Deliver C-Exchange, a Women Deliver-led private sector forum that includes Johnson & Johnson, WomanCare Global, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, GE, HRA Pharma Foundation, MTV Staying Alive Foundation, and Merck (known as MSD outside the United States). 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...

Celebrate Solutions: Role-playing Workshops Turn Adolescent Indian Girls Into Leaders

By: Pratik Phadkule, Michael Matheke-Fischer and Casey Mixter, Real Medicine Foundation

Girls in rural India are given little information about the physical, emotional, and social changes that go along with puberty and adolescence, yet proper education and guidance during this developmental phase has critical implications that affect individuals, families and entire communities; Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) has developed a series of workshops to empower adolescent Indian girls and turn them into community leaders, breaking the cycle of poverty and establishing a model for women’s rights in India. 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...

Press Release: 206,000 More Girls to Benefit from HPV Vaccine with GAVI Alliance Support

10 countries approved in latest round of HPV vaccine demonstration programmes

GENEVA – An estimated 206,000 girls in 10 developing countries are expected to benefit from the introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against the leading cause of cervical cancer, announced the GAVI Alliance on World Cancer Day. The latest round of approved HPV vaccine introductions will see 10 countries begin targeted demonstration projects. The new approvals bring the total number of countries lined up to receive GAVI support for HPV vaccine to 21. 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...

Raising Our Voices: Young Leaders at the International Conference on Family Planning

By: Ms. Makda Mikre Tessema, Let Girls Lead AGALI fellow, YWCA Ethiopia

The International Family Planning Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia included more than 4000 people from all over the world bringing together family planning educators, researchers, practitioners and most importantly, the highest number of young people attending an international conference.

Before the official opening of the ICFP conference, I had the great honor to speak at the Family Planning + Social Good pre-conference event, representing Let Girls Lead’s Adolescent Girls Advocacy & Leadership Initiative and the YWCA of Ethiopia. Let Girls Lead empowers girls and their allies to lead social change, contributing to improved health, education, and livelihoods for over 3 million girls globally. I graduated from Let Girls Lead’s AGALI program in 2010, where I learned to lead changes that improve young people’s lives, including increasing their access to family planning. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Empowering Maasai Girls Through Education

By: Rati Bishnoi, Catapult

Located in the Trans Mara district of Kenya, the Kakenya Center for Excellence is a primary boarding school focused on serving the most vulnerable underprivileged Maasai girls. The academy provides girls a space for academic excellence, female empowerment, leadership, and community development. This summer—through a fundraising campaign on Catapult.org—the Kakenya Center for Excellence was able to raise funds to provide uniforms, foods, books and supplies, and personal items for 30 students and support a teacher's salary. Read more...

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