On this year’s International Women’s Day, we celebrate girls like Sylvia. Although only 14 years old, Sylvia knows what she wants from life – and where she doesn’t want to end up! She knows that there are expectations of her from her family, friends, and community, but she wants to live life her way and make her own choices.
Unfortunately, however, Sylvia is just one of over 220 million women and girls that lack access to contraception. This unmet need removes their ability to determine the timing and spacing of their pregnancies. Also, women and girls living in poverty like Sylvia are prone to suffer lifelong discrimination.This means restricted access to decent work, property, education, and limited decision-making possibilities whether at home, in the community, or at government level. Not only that, but if Sylvia has an unintended pregnancy, she could also be one of the over 289,000 women that die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth each year – 99 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
In order to make the right choices, she needs access to the type of contraception that suits her. In addition, we need to include her voice and those of the millions of young women living in poverty, in the creation of policies and programmes that impact them. This is one the key asks of The Girl Declaration which is a global call to action to place girls at the centre of development cooperation. Only once this starts to happen, can we create a fairer and more equitable world where everyone can follow their own path in life.