In the wake of the migration crisis and other humanitarian emergencies, women and girls are experiencing unconscionable trauma. Gender-based violence – including child marriage and forced pregnancy – exploitation, and trafficking often escalate during conflict, threatening the lives and well-being of women and girls around the world. Women and children account for roughly 75 per cent of those displaced by conflict. About 20 per cent are women of reproductive age.
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Around 30 teenagers aged 15 to 19 were newly infected with HIV per hour in 2017, according to a new UNICEF report. Of these, two-thirds were girls.
“This is a crisis of health as well as a crisis of agency,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex. HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalized, leaving teenage girls at the centre of the crisis.”
Girls living with disabilities often have fewer opportunities to engage with the broader world than boys. In April, UNFPA began working with the Special Olympics to create opportunities for adolescent girls to play and learn. The project will provide sports activities for both girls with disabilities and those without. The participants will also learn about their reproductive health and their human rights.
Girls around the world lack basic knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health and struggle to access menstrual health supplies. Many grapple with shame and taboos surrounding menstruation. These issues undermine girls’ health and rights. Girls can be subjected to stigma or miss school due to difficulty managing their menstrual hygiene. These concerns are being addressed at this week’s Menstrual Health Management Symposium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Early spring seeps through grimy windows, lighting a small unkempt apartment. The place is so dirty that Bibinur begins to feel nauseated. She finds a clear spot to sit down with Almagul, who recently gave birth to a baby boy.
HA TŠEPO, Lesotho, 28 November 2017 - A cloud of yellow dust blows into the group sitting on the ground at the village centre. Toddlers run, legs wobbly, to bury their faces in the open arms of their mothers, as the women pull down kerchiefs to protect their eyes.
For 23-year-old Fatima, it took the death of one child to spark a simple but transformational change, to convince the whole village to start using toilets and improve the health of many young lives.
Sara* was 17 when she found out she was pregnant. Living in a rural village in the Comoros, she carried the entire pregnancy in secret, and then gave birth in a hospital bathroom. "Our society does not accept to get pregnant out of wedlock," she explained recently to UNFPA.
Unless progress is accelerated, ending child marriage in West and Central Africa will take more than 100 years, with far-reaching, life-altering consequences for millions of child brides and crippling impact on the region's prosperity, the United Nations children's agency has said.