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Adolescent Motherhood: Challenges and Lessons Learned for SRHR Advocacy

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)

Working on the phenomenon of adolescent and young motherhood requires a deep understanding of the various structural factors leading to early pregnancies and parenting. As my team and I have carried out our project, the first challenge we faced was the invisibility of teenage and young mothers as key populations within the country’s sexual and reproductive health policies.

What we learned from this was the importance of exploring the diverse realities of the adolescent and young mothers in Mexico, while contextualizing the strategies aimed at promoting and ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). An example is identifying potential protective (e.g. family and community networks) or risk factors (e.g. violence and exclusion) in an adolescent or young mother’s life that could enable or hinder her to overcome the economic, social, and cultural barriers they face to fully exercise their rights. 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...

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...

The Outreach with Maureen Odour, Tanzania

Orginally posted by Maafanta.com

An interview with Maureen Odour, a Women Deliver Young Leader and Founder of Plan at Hand Girl Empowerment Project

Oumie: Greetings Lady Maureen! It’s indeed an honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with a fantastic, extremely brilliant and committed young woman as you. I must admit that I am delighted having you as our guest, especially for this month that we are celebrating International Youth day. It’s an honor to showcase your work in the Outreach. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Maureen: Oumie, I am really honored to be part of the Outreach. I am Maureen Oduor, a development specialist by profession and women and girls reproductive health rights activist. I am Kenyan but work in Tanzania with African Peace Ambassadors Tanzania. I am the regional coordinator of the organization. Also, I am one of Women Deliver’s 100 young leaders working on women and girl’s empowerment.

Oumie: Thank you. Let’s begin with a little bit of history here. We all have our different paths that have motivated us or influenced our involvement in the global women’s movement. Please tell us a little about how your journey began. Read more...

Making Progress Toward a Bangladesh Free From Dowry and Early Marriage

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

By: SM Shaikat, SERAC-Bangladesh

It’s still a nightmare for many girls and women from poor families in Bangladesh to get married without a dowry. Many women whose families fail to comply with dowry demands experience mental and physical abuse – and even death – at the hands of their husbands or in-laws. It is my dream to stop these atrocities and transform Bangladesh into a dowry- and early marriage-free nation.

During my legal studies, I learned that dowries and child marriage are root causes of violence against women – and I immediately realized that I had to do something to put an end to these harmful practices. Armed with little more than determination, I launched awareness campaigns aimed at young people in Bangladesh. Before I knew it, a good number of young people joined the effort. Together we pressured law enforcement agencies, worked with media and advocated with stakeholders to generate attention around our cause. Read more...

Giving Young People a Fighting Chance

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

By: Yemurai Nyoni, Bulawayo Youth Development Organization (Zimbabwe)

I grew up under difficult circumstances. My three siblings and I were raised by a single mother, my brothers taunted me constantly and I bore witness to the vulnerability of my little sister. From these experiences, I learned how to stand up for and defend myself and speak out against injustices endured by others. I became a firm believer in progressive alternatives to restrictive societal norms, especially those that limit opportunity and equality for women. 

In my home country of Zimbabwe, child marriage is a particularly egregious problem. 1 in 3 girls are married before 18 years of age, and 90 percent of adolescent pregnancies occur among girls who are married or in unions. Taking girls from their families threatens their health and educational development and violates their rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more...

WE ARE FRESH – ARE YOU?

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)

Enabling young people is one of the best ways to help a nation flourish. In my country of Uganda, youth make up nearly 80 percent of the population – an enormous wealth of untapped potential. However, poor economic and educational opportunities plague Uganda’s youth, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) has suffered unjustly.

Sex is not openly talked about in Uganda. Ugandans suffer from alarming HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy rates, yet we deprioritize SRH and inhibit access to the youth friendly services that millions across this country desperately need. Often times, the services youth can access are counterproductive to the issues at hand – what good is preaching abstinence to someone already engaged in sex? We need to be promoting proven solutions to help Uganda’s youth live healthier, more productive lives. 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...

Dreaming of a World without Maternal Deaths

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)

I dream of a world where every woman can consciously plan and space her pregnancies, and each baby is delivered safely and in good health. However, the reality in many developing countries plays more like a nightmare.

In my home country of Cameroon, nearly 14 percent of deaths among women of reproductive age are due to maternal causes, compared to 1.5 percent in the United States and 0.5 percent in Switzerland. Globally, almost 800 women die every day due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Ending maternal deaths will not be easy, but I’ve made it my mission to conquer this challenge. 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...

Celebrate Solutions: Men Choose Circumcision to Protect Themselves from HIV

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Studies have shown compelling evidence that voluntary male medical circumcision (VMCC) can reduce a man’s risk of heterosexually contracting HIV by 60%, decrease the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and lower the risk of cervical cancer in female sexual partners. Therefore, it is no surprise that more than one million men and youth in sub-Saharan Africa have chosen to get circumcised to protect themselves.

With support from donors, a Jhpiego program has provided technical assistance and policy guidelines to deliver effective VMMC services. A signature characteristic of the project is the leading role of nurses in performing the procedure. This will build the capacity of health care workers around sub-Saharan Africa to continue to provide these services. Furthermore, the VMMC services are part of a broader package of comprehensive HIV-prevention services that also include screening and treatment of STIs, HIV testing, counseling and referrals, and condom promotion. Read more...

Young People Won’t Be Forgotten at Uganda’s First National Conference on Family Planning

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

As Uganda’s first annual National Conference on Family Planning (July 28-30) drew to a close, the presence and impact of the country’s young people was clear. With nearly 80% of Uganda’s population under the age of 30, it is a demographic group that the country cannot afford to leave behind any longer.

Youth activists started their hard work before the conference, with a two-day workshop on July 23 and 24 organized by It Takes Two and UNFPA Uganda. Under the theme of making universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services a reality for young people, the pre-conference’s nearly 100 participants were able to network with their peers, learn about their government’s commitments to SRH and youth, and strengthen their advocacy and communications skills. Representatives from the Ministry of Health, UNFPA Uganda, and PPD-ARO were all present to share how they are committed to helping Uganda’s young people realize their SRH. 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...

 

Girls and Women Won’t Be Left Behind

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)

My dream is to live in a world where people’s age, gender, ethnicity, health, marital status or sexual orientation does not prevent them from exercising their rights. I would like to see societies where girls and women have a say in the collective decisions of their communities and countries, but most importantly, in the choices concerning their lives, their sexuality and their reproduction. Shaping the future we want requires urgent action at local and international levels.

Today, the world has the biggest youth population in history. In Mexico, 32% of the population is young (approximately 38 million)  – half of whom are women. Despite these numbers, young people have limited opportunities to contribute to development. Billions of young people around the world – and millions within in my country – have the potential to shift the prevailing paradigm if we act now. Read more...

 

My Dream for the Future

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 (Uganda)

Growing up in an HIV-affected community, I learned about stigma at a very young age. Although I wasn’t HIV positive, I was treated as such.

I was born in a small village known as Katereza in Mbarara district Uganda. I grew up in the hands of my sister – and she and her husband were both HIV positive. I was strongly affected by this and, like them, I was discriminated against by my friends and their parents. I wasn’t HIV positive, but I began to think I was. No matter how much my mother (sister) would tell me I was not, I still stigmatized myself.

This stigma shouldn’t exist – yet there is no stronger taboo in Uganda than talking about sex and HIV. I wanted to be able to talk openly about these issues with my family and peers but faced resistance. In high school, I started talking to friends about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and so many young people approached me with different questions. They saw as some kind of oracle, but I just didn’t have all the answers. I knew I had to do something, so I started the project Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) to give young people a voice and empower them to change their future. Read more...

SRHR Beyond 2015: A Good Step Forward, But Still Some Way To Go

By: Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver

Last week proved to be an intense week of negotiations in the last of 13 meetings of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Civil society organizations and countries who support sexual and reproductive health and rights, adolescent and youth issues, and gender equality fought long and hard to get targets included into the final report for the Secretary-General.

The good news is that we succeeded – somewhat – in getting these important issues included in the report that will serve as part of the foundation for the new global development framework for the next 15 years. Read more...

Working Hard to Get the World We Want: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights After 2015

By: Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver

Imagine a world where no woman dies giving life, where unwanted pregnancies are a thing of the past, where every girl is able to attend school and receive a quality education, and where everybody – including girls and women – can exercise their rights and have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. That world is within reach, and the time to fight for it is now.

For those who care about maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – whether advocates, activists, private sector representatives, or policy-makers – we’re approaching a very crucial time in a process that will affect girls and women around the world for decades to come. It’s time to take a deep breath, and to come together for a next-to-final push through this last mile. 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...

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