KACHIN STATE, Myanmar - Since the armed conflict in northern Myanmar's Kachin State intensified in December, nearly 7,000 people have fled the area, often amid shelling and airstrikes. Among the people on the run are 260 pregnant women. Many of them are sleeping on the roadside, unable to find shelter.
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MORODIJEEX - It was early morning when a young sheikh, Abdi Iidan, and his wife joined the long queue leading to a tent in Morodijeex, Somaliland. Mr. Iidan stood out from the crowd; women dominated the queue. They were seeking reproductive health services, offered through a UNFPA-supported campaign targeting marginalized populations.
PREAH VIHEAR, Cambodia - "I still remember when my neighbour experienced complications during delivery. She passed away on the way to the referral hospital. It was terrifying," 16-year-old Kem Lean told UNFPA in the northern Cambodian province of Preah Vihear. "Now that I'm pregnant myself, I keep thinking that I don't want that to happen to me."
Shukria was married off at just 9 years old. The wedding was arranged to settle a debt her family owed to a 50-year-old man. “He told my father he would forget the debt and give even more money if he could take me as his bride. So that is how I got married,” Shukria recounted.
Kachin, Myanmar - Five years ago, armed conflict engulfed Nam San Yam Village in northern Myanmar, forcing Aung Htwe to flee for his life. Since then, he has lived in the Maina AG displacement camp, unable to return home. Yet even in this safe haven, he sees - and hears - violence all the time.
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.
WINDHOEK, Namibia - In many ways, Lelanie Basson is the picture of an empowered woman. But the best-selling Namibian author and entrepreneur remembers darker times: an abusive relationship that turned her life upside down. "He would threaten my life and that of my son.
IBB, Yemen - Last year, Ayisha was married at only 13 years old. She delivered a baby several weeks ago - a girl. "My family forced me to get married and took me out of school," she told UNFPA while recuperating from childbirth. She was crying; the new reality of her situation weighed heavily on her.
If all of the ten-year-old girls living in developing countries that currently drop out of or do not attend school were to complete their secondary education, it would lead to an additional $21 billion per year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed today in its annual State of the World Population Report.
The world's future will be determined by the fate of its 10-year-old girls. Age 10 is the beginning of adolescence, when girls start to see life's possibilities expanding - or contracting. As these girls approach puberty, they may begin to exercise more independence and explore new interests.