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UNHCR

Chaxelle rocks her daughter Gloria gently as she laughs happily and waves her small hands. The five-year-old gazes at her mother's face adoringly; this is after all, the woman who does everything she can to shield her from a life that has already proven to be tough as nails for the Burundian family.

UNFPA

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.

UNFPA

MOZYR, Belarus - When Anya Shevko, 29, became pregnant, she had to weigh herself at a recycling centre because the local maternity clinic did not have suitable scales. Even visiting the clinic was difficult because Anya is in a wheelchair - and so is her husband, Zhenya, 36.

UNHCR

At the end of a 22-hour drive from their village in northern Bangladesh, a busload of textile workers parks in the pelting rain.

 

UNFPA

HARGEISA - Asha Ali Ibrahim, 41, has been performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls in Diaami, Hargeisa and other parts of Somalia since 1997. July and August are her busiest months of the year. "This is the peak season, when parents bring their children to be cut," she told UNFPA.

UNFPA

SAYED KHEL, Pakistan - "It was seven in the morning, and I had not yet started my working day, when Hafsa* was brought to the clinic with normal labour pains," said Mahbooba, a 27-year-old midwife who runs the Aqtash clinic in Afghanistan's rural Sayed Khel District.

UNFPA

DAMASCUS, Syria - Ruqayya was pregnant when she fled the embattled city of Deir ez-Zor, in north-eastern Syria, with her husband and two young children. The family took refuge in Al-Areesheh camp, in Al-Hasakah Governorate - but Ruqayya's ordeal was not yet over.

UNFPA

CAVITE, Philippines - Seven months ago, Mae Esparcia, 30, gave birth to her first child, Maria Carmen. After her delivery, Ms. Esparcia, a garments factory worker at Hamlin Industrial Corp. in Cavite, Philippines, decided to start using contraceptive pills, which she received for free - from her workplace.

UNFPA

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Elizabeth was exhausted after four hours of contractions at the Petite Place Cazeau clinic, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Finally, with gentle guidance from the midwife, she gave one last push. Stifled cries filled the delivery room. The nurse presented a baby girl to the new mother.

UNFPA

LUSAKA, Zambia - "I have seen girls become pregnant, become victims of violence and become HIV-positive, and I don't want to become one of those girls," said 13-year-old Lydia Mwelwa, a student at Kabulonga Basic School in Lusaka, Zambia's capital. "I'm happy they have taught us in school how we girls can protect ourselves," she added.

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