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Population Briefs

Menstruation Accounts for Only a Small Proportion of Girls’ Absenteeism in Malawi, Study Suggests

Menstruation Accounts for Only a Small Proportion of Girls’ Absenteeism in Malawi, Study Suggests

In many countries of the developing world, and especially in rural areas, girls who attend school do so for only a few years, often dropping out when they are in their early teenage years.

The reasons for school dropout vary. Education for girls is not considered important or is actively opposed in some societies. Often girls are expected to marry at an early age; few stay in school afterward, especially if they have children. Economic factors can be just as important because families sometimes cannot afford school fees for any or all of their children. When decisions must be made among siblings in regards to education, boys nearly always are given priority.

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Population Briefs

Increasing Girls’ Protective Assets in Rural Upper Egypt

Increasing Girls’ Protective Assets in Rural Upper Egypt

The vulnerability of adolescent girls in developing countries is recognized and well-documented. In few places, however, do they face as many deep-seated and complicated challenges as Egypt.

The country has made significant strides, in school enrollment, health, and economic development. Yet women and girls continue to face many challenges. Some 90 percent of Egyptian women have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), often as teenagers. Girls are far more likely than boys to have never enrolled or to have dropped out of school after only a few years. And girls, particularly out-of-school girls, are more likely than boys to have limited mobility, which leads to social isolation, fewer friends, and fewer opportunities to fully participate in public spaces and play a meaningful role in society. Indicators like these underscore the need for new and innovative approaches to empowering girls.

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Population Briefs

Improving Adherence in Microbicide Clinical Trials: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

Improving Adherence in Microbicide Clinical Trials: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

Microbicides are biomedical products being developed to protect people against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Some microbicides are being designed as vaginal products for women, and others would be rectal products for either men or women. Several candidate microbicides have been developed and tested over the past two decades. Yet the results of clinical trials have been largely disappointing. Just one trial provided evidence that a vaginal microbicide could protect against sexual transmission of HIV. The results of a confirmatory trial are underway. Should it provide confirmation, several years would still be needed before a product is available in sufficient quantities.

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Population Briefs

Family Planning Road Map Points Way to Equitable Access

More than 200 million women in the developing world who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a modern contraceptive method. The reasons include perceived or actual side effects, lack of availability and information, cost, and socio-cultural obstacles.

Participants at the London Summit on Family Planning, held in July 2012, set a goal to respond to this unmet need for contraception. They launched an initiative to reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020 with voluntary access to high-quality family planning. Commitments totaling US$2.6 billion have been made by national governments, civil society, and the private sector as part of the initiative, known as Family Planning 2020 (FP2020).

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Population Briefs

Study Highlights Data Needed to Reduce Child Marriage

Study Highlights Data Needed to Reduce Child Marriage

Few investigations have explored the diversity of married girls’ experiences depending on how old they were when they got married. A new study by the Population Council’s Ethiopia country director, Annabel Erulkar, highlights the unique vulnerability of Ethiopia’s youngest married girls and calls for specific programs to delay marriage among those under age 15—a population of young girls often missed by current programs aimed at curbing child marriage.

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Population Briefs

Lessons from a Decade of MSM Research in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lessons from a Decade of MSM Research in Sub-Saharan Africa

It has been just over a decade since the first large behavioral survey of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa was conducted by the Population Council in Senegal. To uncover what has been learned since then and to explore future directions for research and programs for MSM, Scott Geibel, Nicholas Muraguri, and Marleen Temmerman—all experts at organizations at the forefront of addressing these issues—reviewed the existing research and offered guidelines for the next decade of research and policy.

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Population Briefs

Understanding and Empowering Migrant Girls

Understanding and Empowering Migrant Girls

People have always migrated as they seek better lives for themselves. This is true even for adolescent girls, who are on the move in ever greater numbers. Because of their age and sex, migrant girls are especially vulnerable to risks, such as exploitative employment. To learn more about the motivations and needs of migrant adolescent girls, Population Council staff and colleagues wrote Girls on the Move: Adolescent Girls & Migration in the Developing World, a new report in the Girls Count series.

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Population Briefs

Researchers Call for a Green Contraceptive Research and Development Agenda

Researchers Call for a Green Contraceptive Research and Development Agenda

“We’ve gone from 30 million contraception users in 1960 to 645 million in 2010—and that number is projected to jump to one billion by the end of the century,” observes John Townsend, vice president and director of the Population Council’s Reproductive Health program. “As more and more women gain access to contraception, we want to make sure that developers, manufacturers, and distributors are doing their part to help protect the environment.”

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Population Briefs

Placing Equality, Respect, and Dignity at the Center of Sexuality and HIV Education

The Landscape

Sexuality and HIV education can help adolescents develop the capacity for healthy, respectful relationships and protect themselves from unwanted and unsafe sex, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infection. “However,” says Population Council social scientist Nicole Haberland, “only a few curricula actually demonstrate an effect on unintended pregnancy or on sexually transmitted infections. We see the strongest results with those curricula that emphasize gender and power issues. Unfortunately, most curricula still do not address these issues.”

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Population Briefs

Improving Quality of Care in Family Planning

Improving Quality of Care in Family Planning

Population Council researcher Anrudh K. Jain provided some of the first empirical evidence for the relationship between family planning method choice as an aspect of service quality and the prevalence of contraceptive use. Since then, several studies have demonstrated that improving the quality of reproductive health services increases contraceptive use.

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