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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...

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...

Promoting the SRHR of Adolescent and Young Mothers

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

By: Cecilia García Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

As the Adolescent and Youth Motherhood Project (AYMP) draws to a close, there are a few highlights that are worth sharing.

As mentioned in previous posts, it is important that human rights advocates have a deep understanding of the diverse realities, needs, interests and expectations of the populations they seek to benefit and reach. When working with adolescent and young mothers the first lesson to be learned is: do not take anything for granted. This means, for instance, that we cannot assume that adolescent and young mothers have more information and tools to access quality sexual and reproductive health services than any other young person in their community. Misconceptions about their experiences with the healthcare system are common. Very often, we find that a significant percentage of these young women have faced discrimination and violence from health providers, education workers, peers, and even members from their own families and communities. Read more...

Young People Must Be Listened To

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)

What does it mean to be fully and richly empowered about sexual health? Is it having adequate comprehensive information about sexual reproductive health and rights? Is it about changing behavior based on the knowledge of harmful sexual practices? Is it having access to sexual reproductive health services? Or could it be the government making the conditions in the country favorable to accessing sexual health information and services? We have been asking ourselves these questions on the FRESH social media platform. We want to know how effective the platform is – how many people it is reaching and is it influencing behavior. Read more...

Understanding the Experience and Needs of the Target Population is Crucial to a Project’s Success

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)

In Nigeria, people speak many different languages, so it is important to cater to each target population’s language needs. For the implementation of the project, all presentations used for training workshops were translated into the Tiv dialect, as majority of the participants did not understand English. In addition, we have trained and deployed more Female Sex Workers (FSW) as peer-educators, since many are native Tiv speakers. This has allowed us to reach more people, including FSW and their clients who are not based in brothels. While we were initially concerned about this language barrier, our efforts seem to have overcome this challenge. Given the feedback we have received, it appears that more and more FSW are being reached by the project. An important lesson to be learned from this, however, is that understanding the local context is crucial to the success of a project. Read more…

Young Leader Nargis Shirazi Nominated for The Waislitz Global Citizen Award

Nargis Shirazi, one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders, Founder of the Wo-man Foundation, and It Takes Two Campaign Project Manager, has been nominated for the Waislitz Global Citizen Award in recognition of her work to empower girls and women in Uganda by advancing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Global Poverty Project, in partnership with Alex Waislitz, presents the award to shine a spotlight on the outstanding individuals who are working to improve the lives of people around the world. Individuals are nominated based on four key areas: embodiment of global citizenship; proven impact with a substantial record of making lasting change and creating opportunities for the world’s poor; innovation that brings new thinking to overcoming the challenges of ending poverty; and the potential to improve their work. Nargis was nominated for this inaugural award alongside David Auerberch from Washington DC and Anoop Jain and Swapnil Chartuvedi, both from India. 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...

Now Is the Time to Include the Voices of Young People

By: Mallah Tabot, United Vision (Cameroon)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda because we can’t wait afford to wait any longer. In 2014, it is a shame that young people have limited or no control over their sexual health. It is a shame that SRHR services are still managed as a luxury item for the 99%, while basic education on sexual health and rights don’t have a place in our educational system. And, why should the decision to have or not have a child be left in the hands of fate or chance or luck instead of choice?

Working in a small rural community in southwest Cameroon, I have seen the stark realities of the lack of education and access to SRHR by young people. My interaction with the small village of Eshobi has exposed me to horrific realities of girls and women’s health - the conditions under which thousands of young girls are forced to live in - because SRHR and comprehensive sexuality education in our educational system is not a priority for our politicians. Read more...

Knowledge is Power: Youth-Led SRH Education for a Brighter Future

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)

As a young advocate from Nigeria, I have seen the numerous challenges that young people experience in my country firsthand.  One of the greatest challenges I see in my country is a growing generation of young people – and the difficulties they face in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and realizing their reproductive rights. But I also see this as an opportunity for positive change.

Right now, most young people in my country have an unmet need for modern contraceptives. In other words, they want to use contraceptives, but are not using them for one reason or another. Socio-cultural barriers to youth-friendly information and care and a lack of government resources are among the biggest barriers to Nigerian youth accessing the sexual and reproductive health services they need. Read more...

Rights-Based Family Planning: Importance of Increased Access

By: Chastain Fitzgerald; Originally posted by Population Council

Chastain Fitzgerald is the Chief Program and Development Officer of WomanCare Global

This post is part of a monthly blog series profiling viewpoints from leaders in reproductive health who are members of the Bellagio Group on Long-Acting Reversible Contraception. The Bellagio Group is a coalition of experts that convenes annually to discuss practices for expanding contraceptive choice and accelerating progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to reproductive health services. This post represents the views of the author and is not a representation of the Population Council or the Bellagio Group. Please direct any questions to the author at cfitzgerald@womancareglobal.org.

Two weeks ago, I observed a focus group in Lusaka, Zambia, where a moderator from a South African marketing agency spoke with eight young women about their views on contraception. Joined by a local researcher, a program manager, and marketers, I watched the session next door through a live television feed. Our goal was to get a head start on the development of marketing strategies for new contraceptive products—a project funded by USAID. In that small room in the Lusaka office building, we huddled around the television listening to these women’s opinions about different contraceptive options, hoping to understand how they make decisions about which methods to use and how the public health community can better meet their needs. Read more...

 

Study Shows that Laws Act as Barrier to Young People Getting Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

New research published today highlights how the law in different countries often restricts young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.

PRESS RELEASE: A series of reports by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) also found that taboos and stigma related to young people’s sexuality are often made worse by restrictive laws.

The series called ‘Over-protected and Under-served: A multi-country study on legal barriers to young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services’  provides a global overview of laws relating to consent, sexual expression, equality and violence.

It looks at three case studies in the UK, Senegal and El Salvador – and explores how young people’s knowledge and perceptions of the law impact their access to sexual and reproductive health services.Findings from all three countries highlight young people’s uncertainty and confusion about whether they have the right to access SRH services: Read more...

Ethiopian Government Striving to Promote Family Planning Amidst Challenges

The Ethiopian government has made tremendous progress in increasing access to contraceptives and improving maternal health. Through its innovative Health Extension Program (HEP), community health workers are formally trained and employed as full-time government workers. This investment has helped to serve hard -to-reach areas of the country. Despite strong political will and innovative support through the HEP program, major challenges are still holding back universal access to family planning and reproductive health services.

Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa with 90 million people, and this figure is projected to double by 2050 if no interventions are made to address this issue. According to a report by the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, adolescent girls in Ethiopia particularly need access to reproductive health information and services, and interventions that prevent child marriage. 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...
 

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...

Women’s Rights Defenders Call for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

On the re-launch of May 28 International Day of Action for Women’s Health, Women’s Rights Defenders Worldwide Call for the Inclusion of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

This May 2014, in commemoration of 30 years of struggle and activism reflected in the victories of the women’s rights movement in the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and in the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), women’s rights defenders and activists worldwide are re-launching May 28, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, by calling on governments to ensure a holistic, inclusive, and human rights-based approach to women and girls’ health, which includes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Read more...

Press Release: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are Crucial to Ending Poverty

Originally posted by IPPF

United Nations, New York: A new report launched today reveals that sexual and reproductive health and rights are still nowhere near high enough up on the UN’s list of priorities. The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) “Sexual and reproductive health and rights: a crucial agenda for the post-2015 framework” report, unveiled on the first day of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), argues if Member States and the UN fail to prioritize women and girls, or sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), then the next development framework cannot hope to end poverty. Read more...

This International Women’s Day, Invest in Our Future

By: Jill Sheffield, Founder and President of Women Deliver; originally posted on Devex

Throughout the last three decades, I’ve dedicated my life’s work to improving the health and well-being of girls and women. I have tremendous gratitude for the trailblazers who made this possible — those around the globe who spoke up for the health and rights of girls and women even when it was unpopular or dangerous to do so. They have made possible all the progress we’ve seen, and inspire me to keep striving for more.

On this International Women’s Day, I want to look ahead to the future and celebrate the young men and women, many of whom weren’t even born when I began my journey, who are not only picking up the torch to advocate for women’s rights, but are carrying it with new fervor, passion and creative thinking. Read more...

Another New Year—And One More Chance to Choose the World We Want

By: Mariela Castro Espín, Cuban MP, President of CENESEX, member of the UN High-Level Task Force for the ICPD; Originally posted on Huffington Post

The coming year is a crucial one for humanity, the future and the planet. Throughout 2014, in a series of global and regional deliberations, representatives from all member states of the United Nations will begin negotiating the basis for a new development framework to be adopted in 2015 that will affect the lives of billions of people from all countries, rich or poor, developed and developing, from north and south, for decades to come. The framework under discussion, known as the Post-2015 Development Agenda, will build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which comprise specific goals and targets and served to motivate the international community's mobilization for its followup. The new Development Agenda will need to have as its essential objective eradicating poverty and promoting social, economic and environmental sustainability. Read more...

Large Returns from Small Investments in Women’s and Children’s Health

By: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA; Originally posted on Huffington Post and devex

A recent study published in The Lancet finds that an increased investment in health of only five dollars per capita per year in 74 of the poorest countries can result in a nine-fold social and economic return. The Global Investment Framework for Women's and Children's Health, supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organization and other partners, shows that small investments in women's and children's health will yield a large return. By making the additional investments needed for life-saving interventions, it would be possible to not only avoid unnecessary deaths, but also have healthier, more productive individuals, communities and countries. Read more...

An Open Letter to Africa’s Leaders

By: Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique; Originally posted on The Africa Report

H. E. Joaquim Chissano is the former President of Mozambique and current co-chair of the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development)

This is a transformative moment for Africa – and indeed, for the world. Decision-makers from across the continent, under the able leadership of Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, are finalising a crucial document outlining a common position for Africa on the development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. Since the 1990s, Africa has gained considerable strength in international negotiations by sticking together and forging consensus on important issues. It is a strategy that has empowered us in many ways. And it means that our voices will be heard when the framework that will guide governments, donors and development partners for years to come is negotiated. So we need to be careful what we ask for. Read more...

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