Researchers around the world are working to develop new ways to stop a collection of diseases that infect more than a million people every day. These infections cause serious, sometimes fatal complications including maternal and infant mortality, infertility or anogenital cancer, and can increase susceptibility to HIV. Billions of people are at risk…but too often these diseases are either ignored, or regarded as unavoidable “facts of life.”
Five years ago, more than three million girls each year were at risk of undergoing genital cutting - part of a complex mix of norms and societal expectations. Today, due to growing populations and the fact that ever more countries are admitting to girls being cut, many more girls are at risk.
The Council's evidence is being used by the State Department to improve the lives of adolescent girls around the world.
The Population Council is conducting the world’s largest body of research on ways to improve the lives of adolescent girls in the developing world. For more than 25 years, the Council has developed and evaluated innovative programs and systems to increase access to quality reproductive health and HIV services and reduce the vulnerabilities that can increase girls’ lifetime risk for HIV and AIDS. Council research shows that if we can reach girls early, keep them safe and in school, and give them critical skills and information and a say in their own lives, they will be on the path to a safer, healthier adulthood.
A new global commitment to address the various factors that increase girls’ risk for HIV infection and help keep them safe from HIV was announced in 2014. We asked Janet Fleischman of CSIS to comment on what she thinks of this heightened response and what’s needed to keep adolescent girls HIV free.
With the largest generation of young people that the world has ever seen, and because of the grave cost that gender inequality extracts from their potential, the test of whether or not the next 15 years deliver sustainable development lies with the adolescent girl. She is the face of the future. Realizing her rights to dignity through access to health, keeping her safe and in school, and giving her critical information and a say in her own life will transform her future. Transforming her future means all of our futures are transformed.
As a senior medical advisor for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University, I know well the power that family planning can provide for women and couples. With effective contraception that meets their needs and lifestyles, women have the ability to freely decide whether to have children and, if so, when and how many.
This post is part of a blog series on evidence generated through the Population Council’s RISING program. RISING uses implementation science, evidence review, and organizational grants to build knowledge about what works in adolescent girls programming. The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Population Council. Please direct any questions to Brad Kerner.
In Nepal, Save the Children and Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) are piloting and evaluating a package of programs called CHOICES, VOICES, and PROMISES that seek to challenge and change restrictive gender norms among very young adolescents by intervening at the levels of the individual, the family, and the community. The programs were developed by Save the Children in Nepal, where there are high rates of early marriage and gender based violence.