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.
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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.
SANA'A, Yemen - On 26 March 2015, the conflict in Yemen dramatically escalated. Two years later, it has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. An estimated 18.8 million people - two thirds of the population - are in need of some kind of assistance or protection, according to the United Nations Humanitarian Needs Overview.
New York/ASSIUT, Egypt - "I will soon be the happy mother of a baby girl," Shaimaa Ahmed Ali told UNFPA in Egypt last summer. "I will definitely not have her circumcised. My husband and I agree on that. She will grow up to be a strong and healthy girl!"
UNITED NATIONS, New York - "I've been a priest for 25 years. During this time, I've met a lot of families ready to terminate their pregnancy just because of expecting a girl," said Giorgi Ugrekhelidze, a religious leader in Georgia. "In most cases, men push their wives to make this decision."
DORNOD/KHENTII, Mongolia - Mongolia was struck by harsh conditions this winter, raising risks for pastoral and nomadic communities. An estimated 165,000 people were affected, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Mongolia. The situation has caused particular concern for women and girls, who are experiencing limited access to sexual and reproductive health supplies and care and increased vulnerability to gender-based violence.
UNITED NATIONS, New York/COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Ninety per cent of women in Sri Lanka have endured sexual harassment while taking public transport, a new study commissioned by UNFPA has found. The findings, released last week, offer a stark view into women's vulnerability to violence and discrimination, issues that are poorly understood - both in Sri Lanka and globally - because of underreporting and lack of data.
Gender equality is a human right. Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and fear, without discrimination. Gender equality is also vital to sustainable development, peace and security.
In commemoration of International Women's Day, UNFPA is celebrating four inspiring women’s rights activists. These women are leaders in their countries and communities. All have overcome enormous barriers to raise their voices on behalf of the most vulnerable and marginalized. These four women stood up to demand equality. You should, too.
DAMASCUS, Syria - Fatima and Rasha welcomed new children into the world on the same day - an experience that would be completely unremarkable if not for their circumstances. Both women are living in uncertainty after fleeing the conflict in northern Syria, part of a wave of displacements that continues to grow.