Let’s Celebrate Each Girl Child, Today and Every Day !

“If you empower a woman or a girl, then you’ve empowered a home, you’ve empowered a country and you’ve empowered the world”, says Damaless, a brave nurse from MSI Reproductive Choices in Zambia.

Marie Stopes International’s “Blue Door” (logo) is a trusted sign for millions of women and girls across the globe. MSI is serving 100,000 girls every month so that they can avoid unwanted pregnancies and continue on their chosen paths.

Having worked closely with MSI in Ethiopia for over 9 years, I passionately believe in their cause. I have been lucky to visit a few rural MSI clinics and interact with the Community Health Workers to discuss the Voucher Program we were developing for their activities. Being a female who has been successfully using an Intrauterine Device for contraception, for many years without any side effects, I fiercely advocated for its usage during our Project Meeting with the MSI Ethiopia Country Director and Program Manager – in front of my American, Orthodox Christian boss, who held opposing views (no offense intended, everyone is entitled to their views & opinions).

The following article has been compiled from the official website of MSI Reproductive Choices, and I believe their mission and message need to be heard today!

International Day of the Girl Child

Today, on the International Day of the Girl Child, MSI is recognizing girls’ rights and highlighting the unique challenges they face.  Adolescent girls have the same rights as boys to safe, educated and healthy lives. But too many still face barriers that keep them from thriving. Did you know that;

  • Worldwide, 1 in 4 girls aged 15-19 is neither employed nor in education, compared to 1 in 10 boys.
  • Every year, 21 million adolescent girls become pregnant. Twelve million give birth, usually ending their education and plans for the future.
  • 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year.

About Marie Stopes International

Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes (October 15, 1880 — October 2, 1958) was a British author, palaeobotanist and campaigner for eugenics and women’s rights. She was an advocate of birth control and founded the United Kingdom’s first instructional clinic for contraception in 1921. In 1976, three reproductive health pioneers, Tim Black CBE, Jean Black and Phil Harvey set out on a mission to bring choice to women around the world by founding Marie Stopes International (MSI). Today MSI works in 37 countries to bring contraception, safe abortion, post-abortion care and other reproductive health services to everyone who wants them.

Marie Stopes India

Marie Stopes International operates two country programmes in India – Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India (formerly Marie Stopes India), and Population Health Services India. Both deliver family planning and reproductive health services to thousands of women and men across the country. Marriage at an early age is common – especially among women – 27% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday and 7% are married before the age of 15. Many women have a minimal role in choosing their spouse, method of contraception, the timing of their first pregnancy, the place of delivery, or the decision to end a pregnancy. Almost half (44%) of all girls aged between 15 and 19 in India already have at least one child.

IMPACT STORIES – Real people, real stories, and real solutions.

When Saanvi*, a young woman in India, found out she was pregnant again, she and her husband felt hopeless. With two children at home already and little financial stability, another child threatened to push the family into poverty. Saanvi visited a local health worker who helped her understand that she could receive a safe abortion at an MSI center in her community. After talking to the nurse at MSI, she received an IUD to protect her from unintended pregnancy in the future. For Saanvi, ending her pregnancy at ten weeks meant the chance to achieve her dreams for her family.

*name changed to protect privacy

Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, India

In a historic move to provide universal access to reproductive health services, India amended the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 to further empower women by providing comprehensive abortion care to all. This progressive legislation was introduced to “ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate a pregnancy.” The new Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act 2021 expands access to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian and social grounds to ensure universal access to comprehensive care. The new law, which came into force from 25 March 2021, will contribute towards ending preventable maternal mortality to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3.1, 3.7 and 5.6.  It also allows women to seek abortion services up to 24 weeks under some circumstances, and reduces the number of providers needed to approve an abortion.

“This is a win for the collective wish of women in India. The amendments have increased the ambit and access of women to safe and legal abortion services,” said Dr Sumita Ghosh, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Epilogue

On Day of the Girl, let’s help all girls thrive. Married or unmarried, in education or not, all girls deserve the chance to pursue their dreams and thrive.

Written by,

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Deepa Perumal
IT Operations Head at PEAKS Academy and C2C Mentor at Prayaana,

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