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.
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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.
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.
"I want to be a doctor someday," said Shaina Macmac, 16, a senior at the WPU-Agricultural Science High School in Palawan, a southwestern province of the Philippines. "Aspirations in life drive young girls like me to push forward even though we face challenges every day."
Concerted global efforts have led to a 60% drop in new infections among children, which has averted 1.2 million new HIV infections among children in 21 priority countries since 2009.