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Q&A with Katja Iversen About Her Vision for the Future

In this Q&A, Women Deliver’s new CEO Katja Iversen shares her motivations for becoming an advocate for girls’ and women’s health and rights; discusses lessons she has learned in her career; offers advice for emerging advocates; and describes her vision for the future for girls and women around the world.

Q: What first inspired you to become a maternal and reproductive health advocate?

I’m proud to say it was my grandmother. Back in the 1930s she – in her own quiet and behind-the-scenes way – fought fiercely for girls’ and women’s reproductive rights in Denmark, where I am from. At the time, only married women could get access to modern contraceptives.  She and my granddad lived together without being married, and she worked seven days a week to get him through college, so getting pregnant just wasn’t an option. Even when she got married and had kids, she kept up the fight for all women’s reproductive rights – because it was just the right thing to do. Read more...

Traditional Rulers Take Action Against Adolescent Pregnancy in Cameroon

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

By: Numfor Alenwi Munteh, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD)

There is an African proverb which says, “The piper – not the dancers – determines the rhythm of music.” Similarly, in Cameroon, traditional rulers – not community members – define cultural and traditional practices that influence attitudes and behaviors.

For centuries, cultural practices and beliefs promoted by traditional leaders (“Fons”) in the North West Region (NWR) of Cameroon have led to high rates of adolescent pregnancy. In many Cameroon villages, people believe that if a man or woman dies without a child, they should be buried with a stone as a sign of disgrace. There is also the belief that a newlywed girl must prove her maturity and fertility by giving birth as soon as possible after marriage. These societal pressures make early motherhood a likely outcome for many young women. 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...

Adolescent and Youth Motherhood: What Do Comprehensive SRH Policies Look Like?

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

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

Advocating for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people entails much more than giving visibility to what happens when rights are restrained or denied. This endeavor requires a deep understanding of the specific needs that young people have in this regard - usually linked to individual and collective diversities - as well as of the different barriers we might encounter along the way. 

The family planning strategies implemented around the world in the last couple of decades have proven their effectiveness but not necessarily amongst the youngest population. The State of World Population1 released in 2013, revels a startling reality: 7.3 million births occur among girls under 18 every year in developing countries. Among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes a number of middle-income countries, Mexico has the highest birth rate (64.2 per 1,000 births) among adolescents between 15 and 192. Read more...

The Lancet Publishes New Study on Maternal Mortality in Adolescents

The following contains excerpts from The Lancet article "Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries."

The Lancet has published a new article investigating the toll of maternal mortality on adolescents. Adolescents are often noted to have an increased risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth compared with older women, but the existing evidence is inconsistent and in many cases contradictory. The new study aimed to quantify the risk of maternal death in adolescents by estimating maternal mortality ratios for women aged 15 to 19 years of age by country, region, and worldwide, and to compare the ratios with those for women in other 5-year age groups. Read more...

 

Busting Myths: Do Health Systems Deliver for Women?

By: Margaret Kruk & Nana A.Y. Twum-Danso; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists 

Maternal mortality is declining globally but remains persistently high in sub-Saharan Africa: the region contributes 56 percent of all maternal deaths each year. This has been attributed to the low number of women delivering with a skilled birth attendant, which results in many women dying at home or arriving at health facilities too late to be saved. To increase the number of women who have access to skilled providers during childbirth, low-income countries have worked to bring childbirth services to primary care facilities that are close to home. Typically these community clinics are meant to be staffed with nurses and midwives trained to provide basic obstetric care, although in practice, skilled providers are difficult to attract and retain in rural areas. In this model, the vast majority of women are expected to deliver at these community clinics, while women with high-risk pregnancies or those who develop complications in labor are referred to hospitals. Read more...

Ending Motherhood in Childhood

By: Lynn ElHarake, Council on Foreign Relations; Originally posted by Council on Foreign Relations

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Lynn ElHarake, research associate for CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. Here she discusses how motherhood in childhood undermines economic growth, health, gender equality, and development.

Last month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published a report on the tragic consequences of unplanned adolescent pregnancies around the world. The report, Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, begins with a sober introduction by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. He writes, “When a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future change radically, and rarely for the better. Her education may end, her job prospects evaporate, and her vulnerabilities to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply.” Read more...

More than 7 Million Girls in Poor Countries Give Birth Before 18 Each Year, Finds New UNFPA Report

Originally posted by UNFPA

Motherhood in childhood is a huge global problem, especially in developing countries, where every year 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth, according to The State of World Population 2013, released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Of these 7.3 million births, 2 million are to girls 14 or younger, who suffer the gravest long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy, including high rates of maternal death and obstetric fistula, according to the report, entitled, Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy. Read more...

The X Factor: Why Investing In Family Planning Can Yield The Greatest Impact

By: Pamela W. Barnes, EngenderHealth; Originally posted on Forbes.com

There are certain moments in our lives when the dots connect, the numbers add up, and things just make sense. Last month in Malaysia, I experienced the dots connecting from all over the world when I was among world leaders, policymakers, and advocates — including Melinda Gates, Chelsea Clinton, Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, First Lady of Zambia, and Princess Mary of Denmark, to name just a few — at Women Deliver 2013, the largest meeting of the decade to accelerate progress for women and girls. Read more...

Global Leaders Call for Accelerated Progress on Family Planning at Women Deliver 2013

Melinda Gates, Babatunde Osotimehin and others highlight progress in expanding contraceptive access

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 May 2013 – On the second day of Women Deliver 2013, the largest conference on girls and women of the decade, global leaders announced progress and new commitments toward expanding contraceptive access for women in developing countries. They also outlined plans for sustaining this momentum in the years to come. Read more...

Harvesting Rainwater Helps Keep Girls Safe at School in Uganda

By: Gemma Bulos, Director of the Global Women’s Water Initiative

This post is part of a series created in partnership by WASH Advocates and Women Deliver. For more information, please contact Cecilia Snyder.

**Are you a journalist at Women Deliver? Contact Cecilia Snyder to arrange an interview of Gemma and other great leaders in Women and WASH!**

At Amuria High School in Uganda, even though female students live at the school as boarders, perfect attendance is not guaranteed. Girl children are required to fetch water during school hours and they can sometimes miss up to three hours of school. Along the way to retrieve water, they also face the threat of violent attack, including sexual assault. What is more, since there is no water on the school grounds, their meals can be served late, and during menstruation they can miss up to a week of studies because they can’t clean themselves properly. In fact, without a reliable supply of clean water to drink, as many as five girls per day faint from dehydration. Read more...

Partner Spotlight: Creating the Healthiest Generation Ever

By:  Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Last year, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) joined other independent organizations, governments, and private foundations at the London Summit on Family Planning in committing to expand women’s access to contraception around the world.

The London Summit set an ambitious goal for the global community: to increase access to contraception for 120 million women living in the world’s poorest countries by 2020. Read more...

 

A New Global Focus on Preterm Births

World Prematurity Day highlights effective, low-cost care and new commitments to address the problem

Preterm birth is the world's largest killer of newborn babies, causing more than 1 million deaths each year, yet 75 percent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.

That's the primary message and motivating theme of World Prematurity Day, November 17, a global effort to raise awareness of the deaths and disabilities due to prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them. Read more...

Delivering a World Where Every Pregnancy Is Wanted

By: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin; Originally posted on Global Motherhood, Huffington Post

The ability to decide when to have children, and how many, is seen as one of the most significant social advances of recent decades. However, this quiet but profound revolution has not yet touched all parts of the world equally. Over half a century after modern family planning programmes began to be extended widely across the globe, millions of women are still denied access to them. Read more...

Making Life-Saving Commodities Available for Women and Children

By: Mary Beth Hastings, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) Vice President

It’s not that we can’t do it. We have the ability to save the lives of almost every one of the 290,000 women who die each year as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, in addition to millions of children. A new report – released with little fanfare – by the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children details how we can save 6 million lives over five years simply by improving access to 13 vital products. Read more...

Safeguarding Pregnant Women With Essential Medicines

Originally posted on PATH

New PATH report offers global agenda to increase quality, availability of medicines

Where a woman gives birth should not decide her fate, especially when affordable, effective medicines exist to treat and prevent the leading causes of maternal deaths. A new report from PATH, Safeguarding pregnant women with essential medicines, offers a targeted agenda for global and national decision-makers to increase the quality and availability of three maternal health medicines that address excessive bleeding after childbirth and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Read more...

World Contraception Day: Uncomfortable Conversations in Tanzania

By: Florence B. Mwitwa, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader from Tanzania

 

 

 

This blog is part of a series, edited by Women Deliver, in partnership with Impatient Optimists, on youth perspectives to celebrate World Contraception Day. Share your thoughts in comments and join the conversation at #WCD2012. For more stories and to get involved further visit No Controversy.

For many young people in my community, talking about contraception is just not comfortable. This is not only true for young people, but also for adults, who might have trouble broaching the topic or supporting young people in their choices. Read more...

 

MDG Week: Development Agencies Tackle Ways To Save Millions Of Mother’s Lives

Originally posted on Huffington Post's Impact Pages

Every day 800 women lose their lives giving birth — 287,000 each year — and the vast majority of these deaths occurs in developing countries. Maternal and child mortality are inextricably related because babies whose mothers die before they’re just 6 weeks old are more likely to die themselves before their second birthdays, than those whose mothers survive.

These deaths are unacceptable, particularly because they are preventable. In 2011, about 6.9 million children died before reaching their 5th birthday -– a significant decline from 12million in 1990. Read more...

World Contraception Day – Blogging a Global Conversation

Originally posted on Every Mother Counts

The Sixth Annual World Contraception Day is coming up on September 26th. This worldwide campaign envisions a world where every pregnancy is wanted and this year, we’re setting the blogosphere on fire with posts, perspectives and conversations all about contraception. Women Deliver, in partnership with the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists, is sponsoring the blog-fest focused on this year’s WCD theme: Your Future. Your Choice. Your Contraception. Read more...

 

World Contraception Day: Girls in South Africa Speak

By: Jos Dirkx, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader from South Africa

 

 

 

This blog is part of a series, edited by Women Deliver, in partnership with Impatient Optimists, on youth perspectives to celebrate World Contraception Day. Share your thoughts in comments and join the conversation at #WCD2012. For more stories and to get involved further visit No Controversy.

The basic human rights of women regarding their health, bodies and sexuality are under threat, and have been called into question during recent debates on contraceptive use and reproductive rights. Read more...

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