Women and girls make up nearly half of the 258 million people worldwide who have crossed international borders to escape danger or pursue opportunity. Amidst unprecedented levels of forced displacement – with 68.5 million people driven from their homes by the end of 2017 – about half of refugees, too, are women and girls.
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Two years ago, 16-year-old Salia Shemsu waited to be married off. Like many young girls in Ethiopia, it was only a matter of time before she would need to leave her family for a husband. Then an opportunity she never expected arrived. A local announcement called for young people to join an entrepreneurship programme. Salia responded immediately. Salia’s district is among 30 in Ethiopia where a joint UNFPA-UNICEF programme is now empowering vulnerable adolescent girls and boys to support themselves and make healthy decisions – by providing them with the knowledge and skills to do so.
One of the most serious complications a woman can experience in childbirth is prolonged, obstructed labour. Women who survive this condition can develop an obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal that leads to chronic medical problems, including pain and infection, as well as incontinence. Three years ago, the Government of Ethiopia launched a campaign to eliminate obstetric fistula by 2020. UNFPA is supporting this effort by helping to identify fistula survivors and supporting surgical repairs at hospitals in Assela, Gondar and Jimma.
AXUM, Ethiopia - Thirty pregnant women at the Almeda Textile Factory Clinic gathered around a small solar-powered projector, raptly watching an animation on pregnancy health. Gebreamlak Giday walked them through the video lesson, explaining the importance of receiving antenatal care, how to recognize danger signs and why they should prepare for possible complications.
The most senior United Nations officials are urging the world to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030, calling it a "violent practice" that scars girls for life, endangering their health, depriving them of their rights, and denying them the chance to reach their full potential.