Diane Fender serves as Program Development Officer for Anti-Trafficking at She Is Safe. In addition to her work with SIS, Diane raises awareness about issues related to the health of girls and women through blogging with Girls’ Globe. Diane will be attending the Women Deliver Conference (May 28th-30th) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she will learn best practices related to girls and women’s health and development. You can read more about her passion for social justice issues on her personal blog mindsetgonejustice.com.
Girls and women in the developing world face threats to their health and well-being on a daily basis. Women in Syria face daily threats of rape in refugee camps and millions of women and girls are currently enslaved in the sex trade in South Asia.
However, there is hope. Each year, we hear stories of courageous young girls like Malala Yousafzai and Fawzia Koofi who have fought for their freedom and survival, despite overwhelming adversity. These girls offer a picture of hope for the future.
There is a growing urgency to invest in their safety and health. If we invested in health, education, and economic empowerment for the 600,000,000 adolescent girls in the developing world, the effect would be incredible! The time to invest is NOW.
“If you change the prospects of an adolescent girl on a big enough scale, you will transform societies.”
-Mark Lowcock (Department of International Development, Permanent Secretary)
A growing movement is “The Girl Effect,” a development model that equips girls to become powerful change agents in their own villages. Studies have shown that investing in girls and women’s health brings freedom and empowerment to entire villages, communities, cities and nations.
She Is Safe works in conjunction with local Christian women leaders who daily invest in girls and women through transformative programs.
Below are several issues that affect the health of girls and women in the countries where She Is Safe works:
Each day, girls face exposure to extreme violence and exploitation. Domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual violence and female genital mutilation are just some of the serious issues that young girls and women encounter. Over 150 million girls under the age of eighteen have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. For many girls, their first sexual encounter is through rape and abuse. Girls who experience this kind of violence are at risk of early pregnancy, HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, and post-traumatic stress.
Premature motherhood results when young girls are married before they are ready. A young girl experiences risks and complications as a result of child birth as her own body hasn’t yet fully developed. According to the recent UNICEF Progress for Children Report, in Africa, problems in childbirth and early pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19. To learn more about the effects of early marriage read our post from last week on Child Marriage.
An estimated 33.4 million people are currently living with HIV. Every eleven seconds, a person dies from AIDS. 47% (over fifteen million) of those affected are women and girls. Those who have experienced abuse and exploitation are more vulnerable to contracting HIV. Adolescent girls (ages 15-24) are the most at-risk and are twice more likely to contract HIV than boys their own age. Girls and women often avoid getting tested due to cultural stigmas, fear of violence and ostracism from their communities.
At She Is Safe we believe in investing in girls’ BODY, MIND and SPIRIT. We have worked for over ten years addressing freedom and health related issues as we seek to prevent, rescue and restore girls and women from abuse and exploitation in high risk places. Investing in the health of girls provides them with an opportunity to be future leaders, mothers, entrepreneurs and change agents in their communities.
What can YOU do to invest in the health and safety of girls and women?
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