'I Have Seen My Friends Die': Why We Need to Talk Frankly About Girls' Reproductive Health

Do you support young people's sexual and reproductive health?

2012 The Year to change the world for girls and women

Sign Now

This blog is also available on the Huffington Post.

Last year, on World Population Day, I was in London with a range of world leaders for the Family Planning Summit. There, a global movement was catalyzed to focus on renewed commitments to ending the unmet need for contraception. Our goal: ensure 120 million more women and girls have access to contraception by 2020. Now, on the one year anniversary, there is one group in particular that needs increased focus for contraception: adolescent girls.

This World Population Day 2013, the focus is on adolescent pregnancy. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among adolescent girls ages 15-19 in low- and middle-income countries.

As if that statistic wasn't sobering enough: one in three of girls under 18 in the developing world are married; many without their consent. And 15 percent of all unsafe abortions in low- and middle-income countries are among adolescent girls aged 15-19 years.

These statistics show: we need to talk frankly and openly about young people's sexual and reproductive health. We cannot shy away from tough conversations when girls are at risk.

In virtually every country in the world, there are disproportionate barriers for young people—particularly young women—when they seek contraception or access to information and commodities to practice safer sex. And this must stop. Girls and young women must have access to contraception and information—no exceptions.

And young women the world over are calling out for these barriers to end as well.

This World Population Day, I hope we will think of girls like Haregnesh and her friends and recommit ourselves to addressing the unique needs of young women and girls."I have seen my friends die," Haregnesh Abetneh, a young woman in Ethiopia said about girls she knows who have been married and starting having children, young. "I have seen educated people and I saw the difference in their lives. I also had friends who were in early marriages and began having children very young. I watched as they had no food to eat or feed their children and they just kept getting pregnant and having babies. I could see that they were suffering and I wanted to go to school."

Haregnesh is part of a Pathfinder International program that supports girls in Amhara, Ethiopia to continue their studies. Her strength and resolve to stay in school, as well as talk openly about girls' education, early marriage, and childbirth, has shifted the approach to girls' education in her family and in her community.

"I was not an educated person and I did not want my daughter to attend school," Haregnesh's father said. "Haregnesh is our third child and she made all the change happen in our family. My three younger children now attend school as well."

This World Population Day, I hope we will think of girls like Haregnesh and her friends and recommit ourselves to addressing the unique needs of young women and girls. That starts with frankly and openly discussing girls' sexual and reproductive health needs.

If we are truly going to meet the goals we ambitiously set forth for 2020 at the Family Planning Summit in London, we must commit to ensuring adolescent girls have the support and resources they need to delay marriage and childbirth, stay in school, and start their adult lives the way each of them want to.

Take action: Sign our pledge to support sexual and reproductive health for young people.

Purnima Mane

Purnima Mane is Pathfinder's President and Chief Executive Officer. She oversees more than 1,000 staff around the world, an annual budget exceeding $100 million, and sexual and reproductive health programs in more than 20 developing countries.

Leave a Comment

* Change


A very good and informative article indeed winter dresses for women. It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views.
michealdanien October 26, 2014
I rooted around for real estate resources, and I happened upon this housing market news website,West Los Angeles Real Estate Blog. I stumbled upon a blog post, How might the home mortgage interest deduction be changed?. This web post is informative.The housing news and real estate analysis on the site is super, the news stories are entertaining and insightful, and the real estate educational materials are fantastic. I advise stopping by this Internet site to take in the great resources available.
calvinbrock735 October 25, 2014
I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. London Headshot photographer
Ahsan October 25, 2014
I know your expertise on this. I must say we should have an online discussion on this. Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information. Link
asdasd October 25, 2014
Wow, this is absolutely amazing. I never had so much reading an article before. Thanks very much for producing this. I voyance retour
jane October 25, 2014
vert shock by adam folker Folkersystem Vert Shock: Adam Folker And Justin 'Jus Fly' Darlington Reveal An Insane Method To Pump Up Your Vertical By 9-15 Inches And Throw Down Dunks On Helpless Defenders Like A Total Badass... Written for consumers by a consumer, this fan site includes a fun and informative Vert Shock review, ebook FAQ, and PDF download guide that provides an insider's look at the program and answers frequently asked questions about Adam Folker and Justin Darlington's unique and highly popular vertical jump training program. Please visit website https://www.rebelmouse.com/folkersystemvertshockreviews/ ...
web October 25, 2014
epic soccer matt smith reviews Epic Soccer Training Program: The Fastest And Most Effective Way To Dramatically Improve Your Offensive And Defensive Soccer Skills. This site is a leading resource for information about the Matt Smith Epic Soccer Training PDF book and soccer training system that teaches you how to master ball control, touch, dribbling skills, passing skills, shooting power and precision, and even soccer I.Q. Includes a collection of Matt Smith Epic Soccer Training reviews, PDF ebook download information, and tips on how to become a better soccer player from around the web. Please visit site https://www.rebelmouse.com/epicsoccertraining/ ...
website October 25, 2014
This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information... source phoenix seo course
alix October 25, 2014
This World Population Day, I hope we will think of girls like Haregnesh and her friends and recommit ourselves to addressing the unique needs of young women and girls buy soundcloud followers
Name October 25, 2014
I am continually amazed at how complicated nutrition is and how much disagreement there is even among people who study it for a living.matt traverso reverse diabetes today video reviews
BlackMen October 25, 2014
We knew all about root vegetables. Apparently, we had been locavores. We just didn’t know it. house moving service
jack89 October 25, 2014
They need to offer the service at a highly competitive rate as customers, who are also aware of the rupee depreciation, will want it that way. vape pen
jams123 October 25, 2014
I have recently started a blog, the info you provide on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. philippines social exchange
calvinbrock735 October 25, 2014
Hey, great blog, but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me please? stresser
calvinbrock735 October 25, 2014
hi was just seeing if you minded a comment. i like your website and the thme you picked is super. I will be back. https://www.rebelmouse.com/michaelfioresecretsurveyreview/
aasaas October 25, 2014
This is just the information I am finding everywhere. Thanks for your blog, I just subscribe your blog. This is a nice blog.. fapturbo
alix October 25, 2014
I found this website that deals with private security and alarms and I thought it may be helpful to you and your readers house moving service
jack89 October 25, 2014
we need to talk frankly and openly about young people's sexual and reproductive health. We cannot shy away from tough conversations when girls are at risk.buy back links
BlackMen October 25, 2014
I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts house moving company
jack89 October 25, 2014
YouTube a Smith k tomu řekl: „Chtěli jsme, aby to video bylo zajímavé, takže jsme se snažili, aby v něm byly k vidění unikátní věci, například záběry z extrémních sportů. Zafungovalo to.“ Hadouken! zahrají ve 21 hodin. fastest way to burn lower abdominal fat
fastest way to burn lower abdominal fat October 25, 2014
Scroll to top