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Empowering women and girls

Empowering women and girls

The benefits of investing in girls and women are transformational. Given the opportunity girls living in poverty are uniquely capable of improving their lives and the lives of their families, communities and countries.


  • Girls aged 10-14 are 5 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than 20-24 year olds.


  • With extra schooling girls can increase their wages by 10-20%. They have better maternal health, fewer and healthier children and greater economic opportunities.


We must take effective action that enables girls and women to fulfil their potential. Their empowerment has a huge effect on economic growth and achieving all of the MDGs.

Girls Decide Videos

Halimah was 17 when she made this film. This is the story of what happened when she first had unprotected sex: how she was ostracised by her family and thrown out of school, and how she felt that her future had been taken away.

Things looked bleak for Halimah but that’s not quite the end of the story...


In Bangladesh, 14 year old Hosna is to be married off by her parents. She’s frightened. She doesn't want to drop out of school, nor to lose the chance of a proper education and the prospects it brings. 

This film shows how Hosna found the way to make the decision she wanted, not the decision her family sought to impose.

At 15, Layla was forced into marriage. She was beaten and raped by her husband’s brother. She fled from her home.

A kindly neighbour took her in. She helped her to move to another city. Only, she wasn’t the kindly help-mate Layla imagined...

Follow Nomvelo, a young Swazi woman born with HIV. 

How does she discuss practicing safe sex with her boyfriend and what does she decide to tell him about her HIV status?

Follow Odeta, a young Albanian woman, as she finds out she has an unplanned pregnancy. 

She has no idea what to do, where to go, or how to handle the situation with her family. She has to make a tough decision. So what happens next?

Valeria is 15. Her mother doesn’t want her to have a boyfriend. But she’s attracted to one of her brother’s friends and they have unprotected sex.

Soon after she’s faced with a tough decision. What would you do in her situation?

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Guides and publications

No one should make you feel bad or discriminate against you because of your HIV status. Do you know your rights and where to turn for help if needed?

Sometimes disclosing your status means talking about a secret that you or your partner has been keeping from each other, like previous relationships, drug use or accepting money for sex.

A healthy, happy and fulfilling relationship with someone else starts with you. Take time to build your self-esteem, deal with your own feelings about your HIV-status, and think about what qualities you value in a partner and relationship.

Nearly everyone knows someone who has faced an unplanned pregnancy. But due to stigma and secrecy, the issue is not discussed openly. Who would you talk to if you needed help?

Finding information online can be confusing. Many young women don’t know they have the right to access a legal abortion.

These stories are based on real experiences of young women from all over the world, from telling their partners and families, to considering the options and seeking an abortion service.

Sexual rights are human rights. Young people are sexual beings with needs, desires and fantasies.

Young people must be able to explore, experience and express their sexuality. They are entitled to do this in positive, pleasurable and safe ways.

To secure young people's sexual rights we must understand how human rights apply to young people's sexuality.

Less than 2c of every $1 spent on international development is directed specifically towards adolescent girls.

We must invest in programmes and services that create choices and opportunities for girls. A positive attitude towards sexuality, sexual behaviour and reproduction, improves the well-being and development of girls and young women.

The choices that are open to any person are affected by 4 dimensions: options, aspirations, expectations and agency. Positive approaches try to expand and enrich each of these areas.

Child Marriage Videos

In Bangladesh more than 60% of young women are married before they turn 18.

This film follows Nipa, who was forced into marriage as a schoolgirl. Why? She brought shame on her family by talking to a boy.

This film follows Kushboo, born into a poor family and a survivor of early and forced marriage. 

The effects are crippling for the victims, who are not emotionally or physically ready for marriage or children.

Early and forced marriage has terrible consequences for girls and young women.

This film follows the story of Ashmita, a survivor of early marriage and forced to give up her education at a young age.