Investing in teenage girls
At Plan International UK, we’re committed to working with communities and young women to ensure that they have better access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, free from discrimination and stigma. So, on World Population day, here are a few reasons why, for the rights that we can often take for granted in the UK, we support young women around the world to access and fight for them.
Globally, 225 million women want to prevent pregnancy but are not using, or are unable to access effective, modern methods of contraception. Sexual and reproductive health and rights plays a key part in progress towards achieving gender equality; how can a young woman take control of her life, finishing her education and entering into the career she aspires to, if she has no control over her body?
In Nicaragua, which has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Latin America, we’ve worked with adolescents on a Girl Power project, so that young women can realise their potential and avoid teenage pregnancy.
Around the world, a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Having no skilled birth attendant present, for instance, can lead to higher rates of infant and maternal mortality. One woman every two minutes of the day dies from complications in pregnancy or childbirth.
We work in communities to ensure that local healthcare is close by. When the Nepal earthquake struck in 2015, access to local health services became more difficult for women. Plan International worked in the community to set up temporary health centres so that women could still give birth in safe conditions.
Women should be free to choose when they have children, yet last year, there were a reported 80 million unwanted pregnancies globally. Where child marriage is still prevalent in some countries, a young woman’s right to choose when to get pregnant can be even more limited. Some girls are married before their 15th birthday and will have children while they are still children themselves, often meaning that they can no longer continue in education.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (Goal 5) to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women must start with an investment in teenage girls and recognition that all women should have the right to choose when, and with whom, they start a family.
This year we’re trying to raise awareness and ensure 120 million women have more access to contraception by 2020.
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