Author: Coalition for Adolescent Girls

A Beginner’s Guide to Stopping Time

This piece was written by Julia Z. – a high school student from the United States of America. All opinions are her own. We hear our grandparents say it. Preach it. Sitting around a crackling fire surrounded by family. Those wise with age warn those who listen eagerly – live while you’re young, enjoy every moment, time moves so fast. We hear the poets telling us to seize the day. Time is an enigmatic topic that attracts scholars, academics, and even inexperienced teenagers like myself. Is it possible that when people tell us to seize the day, they really are warning us to retain our innocence for as long as the universe will allow? Innocence is lost when the weight of the world is suddenly shifted onto the shoulders of an unsuspecting child. Burden, struggle, and responsibility are what make you transform from an innocent child to an adult who wears stress on his or her face like a child wears a smile. What I am describing hit me on a recent trip to Ethiopia. …

Equal Nationality Laws Are Vital to Realizing Girls’ Rights and Security

This post was written by Catherine Harrington, Campaign Manager for the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. At first glance, laws governing nationality rights might seem irrelevant to securing the rights and security of girls across the globe. But, in reality, when countries deny women and men equal nationality rights, it can result in serious violations of girls’ most basic human rights. Nationality laws dictate one’s ability to acquire, change, retain and confer nationality. Today, 27 countries deny women equal rights to pass their nationality to their own children. Over 50 countries maintain some form of gender discrimination in their nationality law, including denying women the right to pass nationality to foreign spouses. When women are denied equal rights to confer nationality to their children, children with foreign fathers are at risk of being left stateless – a status whereby no state recognizes the child as a citizen. Children may be unable to access their father’s nationality for a variety of reasons. In Nepal, a country where roughly one in four …

Taking the SDGs from Formality to Reality

This post was authored by Allison Pfotzer and Dinnah Nabwire on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  During the United Nations General Assembly’s 70th session in September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were signed and the global development agenda was set for the next fifteen years. Members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG) worked to ensure that the SDGs adequately address adolescent girls’ needs and the challenges they face in contributing to sustainable development. Today there are over 1.8 billion young people (ages 10-24 years) globally, 50% of whom are female. Every day 37,000 girls are married off as child brides, while 225 million wish to delay or prevent pregnancy but cannot.  It is projected that 15 million girls between the ages of 15-19 will undergo female genital mutilation by 2030. Adolescent girls are also the only demographic experiencing increasing rates of HIV infection and an increasing risk of suicide, both serious challenges to the SDGs. The following four key recommendations illustrate how to leverage the SDGs to affect real change in the lives …

Girls: The Missing Reality of the European Refugee Crisis

This post was written by Irene Diaz Soto of Child and Youth Finance International and Kathryn Paik of the Women’s Refugee Commission on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  Among the hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking safety in Europe, adolescent girls are all but invisible. We know they are there, but current policy discussions and relief efforts do not include them. This is not new. In humanitarian response, adolescent girls, if they are considered at all, are usually lumped together either with women or with children, despite their unique needs and experiences that differ vast­ly from those of women or children. Adolescent girls are at heightened risk of abuse, exploitation, poverty, and discrimination. When they are displaced or resettled, they face threats that compromise their bodies, their rights, and their development. As the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, aid groups, and various governments are calling on world leaders to offer safe haven to more Syrian refugees, it’s essential that they include this vulnerable group. Members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG), a global …

Building Sustainable Futures

This post was authored by Sacha Green-Atchley and Katy Bullard on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  Climate change is a complex, and contentious, reality of the modern world. Intensified by human activities, climate change decreases the availability of food and clean water, exacerbates public health concerns, and destroys ecosystems and secure living environments.  Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to the various effects of climate change, including natural disasters, droughts, and the displacement that results from such events.  Unfortunately, despite evidence pointing to women’s increased risk compared to men and emerging findings on the potential role of including girls in mitigating their own risk, little is being done to address girls’ specific needs and potential contributions to sustainability work. Various members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls are exploring the effects of climate change on the lives of adolescent girls. These effects include reduced access to education and health services, increased rates of early and forced marriage, and higher vulnerability to water-borne diseases and assault. We spoke with Natalie Elwell, Senior Gender Advisor at …

Why We Can’t Ignore Adolescent Mothers

This post was authored by Sofia Mussa and Malwina Maslowska of WomenOne on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  Worldwide, an estimated 32 million adolescent girls are out of school. Barriers to secondary education disproportionately affect girls and include poverty, gender-based violence, child marriage, and pregnancy. WomenOne, along with members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG), is dedicated to identifying the most hard-to-reach populations of girls and developing programs to ensure that no girl is denied her right to education. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), adolescent pregnancy is a major obstacle to girls’ education. Over half of all births in SSA are to adolescent girls aged 15-19. Additionally, government policies prevent many girls from staying in school while pregnant and continuing their education after delivery. In Sierra Leone, where nearly half of all girls become pregnant during adolescence, visibly pregnant girls and young mothers are prohibited from attending school and taking exams. National policies in Uganda allow schools to expel pregnant students despite laws aiming to achieve gender equality in education, and girls in …

Overcoming Obstacles, Pursuing Education

This post was authored by Katy Bullard, intern for the Coalition for Adolescent Girls In honor of Malala Day, youth contributor Hamna discussed on Girls’ Globe the barriers to and great power of girls’ education in Pakistan. Her words resonate with the significant obstacles that girls in Nyanza and Kibera, Kenya face in pursuing their education and becoming leaders and catalysts for change. Many Kenyan girls are forced to confront the lingering sentiment that “girls cannot be successful… girls are not so much clever and are weak,” as one student described it. Though families are usually, and increasingly, open to the idea of educating girls, those with limited resources are far more likely to send their sons to school than their daughters. Primary school is technically free in Kenya, but ‘hidden’ fees and costs like uniforms and exams can be prohibitively expensive, so universal primary education has not yet been realized. Even when girls are enrolled in school, housework still falls disproportionately on them. Their chores and responsibilities caring for younger siblings can interfere with …

Rising from the Ashes

This piece was authored by Hamna Tariq on behalf of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls.  She pushed her diary inside her lavender bag and hurried through the creaking wooden door towards her faded white school van. She quickly grabbed a seat next to her best friend and started chattering away. Next she heard a gunmen scramble inside her bus, planting a bullet on the left side of her face as she fell down, unconscious, in her own pool of blood. The blinding fluorescent lights coerced her eyelids to flutter open. She was in a hospital, saved by luck. After this horrific incident, she realized that she had to help girls like her and she started working towards girl education, especially in Pakistan. Malala is considered an icon and an inspiration because of her determination and confidence. She didn’t fear the notorious Taliban nor did she bow down to any sort of pressure. Malala was one of very few educated girls of her city. Why was this so? Why was she a target and not others? …

Increasing Knowledge and Confidence During Crisis

 This post was authored by Sunita Palekar Joergensen of the International Rescue Committee, a member of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Over one million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the onset of the brutal civil war in 2011. With families struggling to deal with displacement, loss, and life in a new country, many members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG) have been providing support to increase healing, continue educational services, and strengthen life skills and opportunities for women and girls. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, adolescent girls account for an increasing portion of displaced persons. They also face a unique set of risks, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), human trafficking, social isolation, and early marriage. Conflict and displacement severely disrupts access to education and for adolescents this disruption comes at a pivotal time when they should be receiving comprehensive education about their sexual and reproductive health. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), like several active CAG members, is dedicated to responding to the needs of women and girls in crisis settings. In …

Girls’ Voices Matter

This post was authored by Ariel Cerrud and Nicole Cheetham of Advocates for Youth, a member of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. In a sea of experts, government leaders, advocates, and law-makers, it’s easy to lose sight of who knows best about the lives of adolescent girls: adolescent girls themselves. Often, and to our detriment, the international development community fails to appreciate the unique needs of adolescent girls and the valuable insights they can bring to our programs and policies.  Girls’ voices and opinions are strong, their ideas are informed by direct experience, and their contributions often make organizations more effective. Like many members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, at Advocates for Youth we envision a society in which all young people are valued, respected, and treated with dignity. Valuing young people, especially adolescent girls, means authentically involving them in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the programs and policies that affect their health and well-being. By working directly with young leaders, especially girls in the global south, we can empower them to advocate for …