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It Takes Two Campaign Participates in Flash Mob in Uganda

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

To commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, the It Takes Two campaign joined Reach A Hand Uganda (RAHU) to organize a flash mob to increase awareness about safe sex practices. Together with Kyuka Youth Outreach – a community-based youth organization that uses dance and creative arts to reach young people with important messages – the Dancing to a Safer Sex Flash Mob Activation sought to empower Ugandan youth with information to help them make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Read more...

A Word’s Worth: How Storytelling Can Help the World Achieve Gender Equity

By: Whitney Sogol, Women Deliver

Earlier this week, a small group of journalists, global health advocates, and young people gathered for a conversation between Melinda Gates, Barbara Bush and Katie Couric on how to increase awareness and galvanize action to make society a more just and equitable place for girls and women.

The launch of “Better By Half”— a new online platform to share stories of women serving as agents of change in the world—was the impetus for the conversation. The meeting also served as an opportunity for the public to weigh-in on Gates’ September announcement that gender will now sit at the center of the Foundation’s development work. Read more...

Reimagine the Future – The Power of 1.8 Million Young People

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver

I have said it before, and I will say it again: Young people are not only the future, they are very much the present. And they are the ones who will define the world as we know it and as we want it.

Here, a couple of days after the release of UNFPA’s State of the World’s Population, The Power of 1.8 Billion, and on today's release of UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children: Reimagining the Future – the latter celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – Women Deliver calls for an increased focus on the rights of children and particularly the rights of young people. 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...

Listen, Learn and Invest in Young People

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver; Originally posted by the World Bank

Change. Global leaders galvanize nations in pursuit of it, advocates demand that policymakers facilitate it, and I’d suggest that we all strive to be a part of it. As the saying goes, change is “easier said than done.” But young people don’t seem to see it that way. Not only are young people calling for social, political and economic change, but they are being the change. Read more...

Why Many Developing Countries Could Not Achieve MDGs 4 & 5: A Health Worker’s Perspective

By: Tunde Ajidagba, Women Deliver Young Leader, Nigeria; Originally posted by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition

In the past 15 years, there has been substantial achievement toward reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which seek to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Since 1990, the baseline year for the MDGs, child and maternal deaths both have decreased globally by around 50%, and contraception prevalence has increased from 55% to 63%. Read more...

Zimbabwe: Let Girls be Girls, Not Brides

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver and Yemurai Nyoni, Founder of the Rising Birds Project and Women Deliver Young Leader; Originally posted by AllAfrica

Tecla, a young Zimbabwean girl, was sold for a few cows by her father to help alleviate the family's poverty. She was raped by her husband, became pregnant and contracted HIV. Her baby died soon after birth. Tecla was only 12-years-old. At an age when she should have been in school learning and dreaming, Tecla became a child bride. Read more...

Invest in New Media for Better Health of Young People

By Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

How can we connect for good, connect for all, and build a better world by 2030? To answer this question, global leaders and advocates from around the world convened at the 2014 Social Good Summit this week and to discuss key social issues shaping the future of our world today, like climate change, peace, gender inequality, and health crises like Ebola. Held in conjunction with the 69th Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the summit was an opportunity for young people to not only take part in the conversation, but to lead them.

With conversations conducted in 42 languages from 150 countries, the summit – held on Sunday and Monday – amplified the voice of young people and the future of new media technologies. Many shared stories about how new media technologies like mobile phones are changing the lives of many in the developing world. Through the use of technologies like short message service (SMS), mobile phones, text messaging and social media, young people are accessing information like sexual and reproductive health education and services in ways never that were never before possible. Read more...

Advancing Access to Youth-Friendly SRH Services and Information

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

By: Martin Wanzala, Allied Youth Initiative (Uganda)

I personally believe that a country’s youth population is one of its greatest assets. However, to harness our young people’s vibrant ideas and potential, we must give them opportunities to leave a lasting impact on our communities and nations.

Young people under the age of 30 account for more than half of the world’s 7 billion people. In Uganda – the second youngest population in the world – more than 78 percent of the population is under the age of 30. The time is now for Uganda to increase investments in its young people.

One of the best ways to ensure that young people can lead healthy and productive lives is improve access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Although the government of Uganda and its development partners support sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs and policies, there are still not enough services to support widespread need. Read more...

Sustainable Development Depends on Ensuring Access to Young People’s SRHR

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)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the post-2015 agenda because is their fundamental human right. It encompasses the right of all individuals to make decisions concerning their sexual activity and reproduction, free from all discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to SRHR ensures individuals are able to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the information and services to do so.

As we celebrate International Youth Day, even though the global community has made major strides in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes since the International Conference and Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, it is important to remember that millions of people, mostly adolescents, still lack access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and services. 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...

Why Do Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Matter for Young People in the Post-2015 Agenda?

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)

Today, adolescents constitute about half of the world’s population – more than ever before. Worldwide, the number of adolescents is estimated at 1.1 billion, with 85% of them living in developing countries. Half of these young people will have sexual intercourse by the time they reach the age of 16 and most of them by the time they are 20.

There is a high incidence of unwanted pregnancies in many developing countries. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that out of the 200 million pregnancies that occur each year, about 80 million are unwanted. It has been estimated that about 10% of all pregnancies each year occur among teenagers. Most of these pregnancies are either unwanted or unintended. Often times, adolescents are forced to resort to clandestine, and usually unsafe, abortion methods to terminate these pregnancies. Read more...

Too Frequently, Too Many, Too Young: Preventing Adolescent Girls Mortality

By: Felogene Anumo, FEMNET

On 11th August 2014, my beautiful daughter, Zhane Lindiwe, turns exactly 11 months old. Needless to say, she is a huge blessing in my life. However, as I thank God each and every morning for her, I am cognizant of the fact that every day many young women and girls find themselves carrying a pregnancy that they neither planned nor hoped for. This may result in feelings of regret, hopelessness, and loss of opportunities. But worse still, is the high number of young women and girls who die while looking for a way out of their situation by seeking an unsafe abortion. Other brave girls, despite the negative feelings associated with an unwanted pregnancy, forge ahead for nine months only to lose their lives during childbirth since their bodies are not ready for parenthood. Read more...

We Asked, And You Delivered: Inspiring Actions #SinceWD2013

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver 

As the Women Deliver 2013 Conference came to a close last May, we called on our participants to take one great idea they heard during our conference and turn that idea into an inspired action. By making this ask, we hoped each and every attendee – policymakers, activists, media and young people alike – would transform their experiences into concrete actions at home. And they did.

This spring, we followed up with conference participants to find out what’s been keeping them busy #SinceWD20123, and how our conference has inspired their work. We were blown away by the responses from partners in countries from around the globe  – all dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women. Some of the most inspiring developments brought about by Women Deliver 2013 include: Read more...

Closing the Gap in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Education

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 dream for the future is to live in a society where young people and other marginalised groups have full access to sexual and reproductive health services irrespective of their age, gender and ethnicity. As a girl growing up in Nigeria, I noticed that it was often difficult for young people – and young girls in particular – to access sexual and reproductive health education and care. It’s a reality I’ve always wanted to change.

In my experience, barriers to information and services were often a result of cultural practises or religious beliefs that undermined the right of women and girls in patriarchal environments. In some cultures, it is a general belief that young girls are expected to maintain self-pity, and therefore any attempt to seek sexual and reproductive health information or services is often considered taboo or unacceptable. I’ve always wondered: why do some cultures allow young boys, but not girls, to express their sexual desires without any reprimand? Read more...

Saving Lives: How Text Messaging Can Improve Access to Family Planning

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)

I have a dream! I dream of a world where young women have information about and can access affordable and youth-friendly family planning services. I imagine family planning services being viewed as precious commodities, penetrating the hardest-to-reach markets effectively and consistently just like ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola.

When adolescent girls don't have access to information about their sexuality, or to condoms and other contraceptive methods, the impact is intensely personal — an unplanned pregnancy, HIV or sexually-transmitted disease infection, or injury in an unsafe relationship — but the sum of these individual experiences are catastrophic for communities and for countries. Pregnancy-related deaths are a leading cause of mortality for girls aged 15-19 years-old in low-and middle-income countries.

In Tanzania, young people are at an elevated risk of experiencing sexual and reproductive health problems. The adolescent childbearing rates in Tanzania are among the highest in East Africa, where, by no coincidence, young people also have the highest unmet need for contraception. Investing in the health of adolescent girls is not only the right thing to do, but will also have a lasting impact on Tanzania’s economic and social development. Read more...

 

Evaluating Women Deliver: A Look Back and a Plan for the Future

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

With the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline rapidly approaching, the global community is taking stock of the tremendous progress we’ve made toward improving girls’ and women’s lives around the world and the challenges that remain. At Women Deliver, we too are taking advantage of this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we can do better to make a real and lasting impact for girls and women everywhere. 

Earlier this year, Women Deliver underwent an external, independent impact evaluation to 1) determine Women Deliver’s contributions to increasing visibility and awareness around girls’ and women’s health, and 2) inform a new strategic plan that will guide Women Deliver’s future programs. Our evaluators conducted a materials review, a media analysis, a survey of over 500 Women Deliver supporters, and interviews with almost 100 staff, board members and influential stakeholders in our field.

We are thankful to everyone who participated in this incredibly valuable project. We could not be more thrilled with the outcomes, and we are happy to share some of the findings. 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...

Girls, Adolescents and Youth: Heard. Involved. Engaged.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea and Sumaya Saluja, Global Education First Initiative 

The 3rd PMNCH Partners' Forum is over, yet the commitments that have been made prevail. Young people present at the forum were critical, active, and brought attention to key issues affecting adolescents and youth around the world. During the youth pre-meeting, we worked collectively to shape an outcome document, which clearly outlines specific priorities for adolescents and young people in the definition of the post-2015 agenda. During the two days that followed, we advocated to leverage political commitment and accountability.

Investing in adolescents and youth as agents of change pays. Investing in these populations ensures we will be able to reach other young people and provide a better future for the generations to come. Turning the tide on poverty, violence, discrimination and inequality requires young people to be heard, involved and engaged.

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...

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