Girls need reproductive healthcare 

This shouldn’t be controversial: Girls need access to reproductive healthcare.

But in low- and middle-income countries, there are 14 million girls age 15-19 who want to avoid pregnancy but don’t have access to modern contraception. And adolescent girls are much more likely than adult women to be unable to access contraception. 

This Day of the Girl, we’re shining a light on why girls’ reproductive health matters—and how you can help make choice possible for girls worldwide. 

Why girls need sexual and reproductive healthcare 

The truth is, teenagers have sex—and when they don’t have access to contraception, either because it’s taboo in their community, because they can’t afford it, or because they don’t know where to get it, they risk unintended pregnancies and STIs. Each year, 21 million pregnancies are recorded among girls ages 15-19. About half of these are unintended. 

Girls' reproductive healthcare includes contraceptive counseling. Here, Maureen, a young Zambian woman, speaks to a health care provider, who holds up a flip chart showing contraceptive methods.
Maureen, an 18-year-old woman in Zambia, speaks to an MSI provider about contraceptive methods.

The consequences for girls are sometimes severe. Pregnancy can be dangerous, with young women at increased risk of unsafe abortion and childbirth complications. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth continue to be the leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15-19 globally. 

Unintended pregnancy can also alter the course of a girl’s life by forcing her out of school. MSI analysis has found that every year, in sub-Saharan Africa, up to 4 million teenage girls drop out of school or are excluded due to pregnancy. In Zambia, for instance, 11,000 girls drop out of school due to teenage pregnancy every year, meaning one in four girls are dropping out for this reason. 

How MSI helps girls plan their futures 

At MSI, we’ve put adolescents at the heart of our programs, designing adolescent-friendly services that are confidential, affordable, and stigma-free. In 2021 alone, we provided 1.7 million girls with reproductive healthcare.

Our clients are just like women everywhere—from married women who want to plan their families to students hoping to complete their educations. Whatever their circumstances, we make sure that they can choose the contraceptive method that fits their needs. 

A young Nigerian woman in a rural village.
Hannatu, an MSI client from Nigeria, after receiving a contraceptive implant.

Hannatu is an 18-year-old woman living in a rural village in Taraba State, Nigeria. After seeing girls in her community turn to dangerous unsafe abortion when faced with unplanned pregnancies, she knew she wanted to start using contraception to protect herself. When MSI Nigeria made the journey to her remote village, she opted for a long-acting method to free herself of worry while she finished school.   :

“I chose to begin using family planning, because I’m still a student and want to avoid unintended pregnancy,” Hannatu shared. “I would love to further my education after completing secondary school. This is why I chose a family planning method.” 

Support from generous donors in the United States allows MSI to reach clients like Hannatu, giving them the opportunities choice brings. This Day of the Girl, let’s keep working towards a world where girl have the reproductive healthcare they need to pursue the future they dream of. 

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