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Access to education, the right to make choices about your own body – these are things many of us take for granted. But the reality for many women and young girls in developing countries is very different.
Denied rights to some very basic choices – such as how many children to have and when, whether to stay in school, and how to participate in their country’s economy.
For some, this is about culture, custom, economics or just denial of basic human rights. For others it is as simple, yet life changing, as not having access to modern contraceptive methods.
In some areas of Pakistan, girls and women are vulnerable to harmful traditional practices, like swara (now illegal, a form of reconciliation where a girl or woman is given in marriage to settle a dispute) and early marriage, and many of them face tremendous obstacles to basic services, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.
Every year the IPPF awards grants to its young volunteers from around the world to support youth-led projects on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
For 2015, the projects were focused on tackling abortion stigma.
“I was given in Swara when I was 14 years old. The man I was given to has married another woman. He has sold my daughters and would beat me regularly for resisting prostitution.” (Project beneficiary)
Swara, is traditionally practiced in north-west Pakistan where women and girls are given in marriage to settle disputes. Although outlawed in 2005, informal tribal elders still consider it a legitimate form of justice (known as Jirga).