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Defending Sarah’s Right to Decide

“My auntie searched our home and found my pills,” says Sarah.

Growing up in a community where women are valued for their fertility, Sarah valued school. She was not ready to have a baby. She wanted to use contraceptive pills, but had no support. Sarah’s parents died when she was very young, and her guardian, like many adults in rural Shinyanga, believed contraception should be off limits to unmarried girls.

“She threw my pills away,” Sarah says.

In high school, Sarah discovered she was pregnant while studying for exams. She was shocked. “I ran away from school,” she says. By 17, Sarah had left school completely to raise her son, Dixon, all alone.

But that is not the end of Sarah’s story.


At Pathfinder, we ensure people can exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, regardless of their age.

Around the globe, Pathfinder trains health workers to deliver quality contraceptive services—including a full range of contraceptive methods—to young people without judgment. We engage communities to transform harmful thinking and support young people’s right to contraception.

By making sure young people like Sarah have the power to prevent unintended pregnancy, we are changing lives: helping reduce maternal death, keeping girls in school, and improving their economic opportunities.

“I don’t want to have any more children,” Sarah says. Now 20 years old, Sarah participates in a support group for young mothers—an approach Pathfinder uses in many countries where we work.

These days, she decides what happens to her body and her future.

It’s my decision…I want an implant.”

At a Pathfinder-supported health center, Sarah smiles and waits for a nurse appear. “I want to take care of my child and to study. My pregnancy is why I left school, now I want to go back.”

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