Today, on the occasion of the release of the latest WHO annual World Health Statistics report, I have decided that I am not going to talk about:

  • The fact that more than 3,000 young adolescents die every single day from causes that are largely preventable.
  • The fact that the leading cause of death for girls and young women aged 15–19, are complications from pregnancy and childbirth. The majority of which occur in countries of extreme poverty.
  • Of the 877 million young women who have a need for contraception living in these countries, 225 million have no access to contraception – that is one in four women (Guttmacher: Adding it Up, 2014)
  • Just to repeat – over 225 million girls and young women living in countries of poverty would like to control the timing and spacing of their pregnancies, have no access to modern contraception – thus increasing the risk of maternal mortality
  • According to UNFPA, children who have lost their mothers are ten times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.
  • Every year, over 74 million women in countries of poverty have an unintended pregnancy (Guttmacher: Adding it Up, 2014)
  • Over 65 million women each year have a pregnancy that ends in a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion (Guttmacher: Adding it Up, 2014)

I am also not going to talk about the devastating effects the new Trump administration is having on the lives of girls and young women in these countries. Especially with the recent hardening of the Mexico City Policy (‘Global Gag Rule’). A policy which according to Marie Stopes International will, over the course of the next three years, lead to:

  • 5 million unintended pregnancies
  • 2 million abortions
  • 1 million unsafe abortions
  • 21,700 maternal deaths

No, I will not talk about any of this.

I think the numbers speak for themselves.

These are dire figures but keep in mind that change is happening and a better future for all is possible. DSW is working hard to create this change but we need your help in accelerating it! Act today by:

  • Becoming informed via our blog and website about the changes occurring in this field and what actions are needed to reverse these issues
  • Following us on social media and share our news. The more people are informed, the more momentum we can gather to bring about positive change.
  • Reading our success stories about young women and girls living in situations of extreme poverty who managed to take charge of their lives and are now inspiring other girls to follow them.

A Brighter Tomorrow is Possible!

Sylvia is 14 years old and lives in Uganda. This short film tracks her hopes and dreams and explores what a difference having access to sexual and reproductive health and rights information, services and supplies can make in helping her reach her true potential.

Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Reportage by Getty Images