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Case Studies

Filtering by Category: Silence Speaks

DREAMS: Storytelling to Support HIV Prevention Among Girls and Young Women in East Africa

Amy Hill

Girls and young women account for 74 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 1,000 are infected with HIV every day. Social isolation, poverty, patriarchal cultural norms, gender-based violence, and inadequate schooling all contribute to girls’ vulnerability to HIV and lives not lived to their full potential. The DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe) partnership goes beyond typical health initiatives to address these factors, working toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS by 2030. DREAMS is an ambitious, public-private effort to reduce rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women in the highest HIV burden countries, which in 2015 accounted for nearly half of all the new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women globally: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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Shifting the Narrative About Gender Bias and Gender-Based Violence in India: One Story at a Time

Amy Hill

In India and Bangladesh, the problem of gender-based violence is exacerbated by deeply rooted patriarchal social structures. Women and girls are discriminated against right from birth, and gender disparity is seen in all spheres – political, educational, religious, civil service, private sector, etc. Many longstanding cultural, religious, and traditional practices in both countries reinforce male superiority and define women as weak, subordinate human beings who exist solely to serve men and their needs. Beyond the immediate health impacts of gender-based violence, the long shadows of its enduring legacy can impede the ability of survivors to participate successfully in education and training activities, achieve economic stability, and engage with cultural and civic life. On a more personal level, the trauma of violence can scar women’s relationships with intimate partners, children, and friends.

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Afghan Women’s Writing Project – An Innovative, Online Approach to Documenting and Advocating for Women's Rights

Root Barrett

After decades of war and occupation, Afghanistan continues to face tremendous challenges. While the current government claims to support gender equality and women’s rights, daily conditions for women and girls have improved little. Rates of gender-based violence are high; the Taliban persists in its attempts to assert control; and the legacy of the ongoing conflict has left nearly 80% of women unable to read and write. Since 2009, the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP) has helped hundreds of Afghan women craft essays and poems and share them with the world. These writings enable thousands of readers each month hear directly from Afghan women on issues of personal, cultural, and political significance. 

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Grassroot Soccer South Africa: Speak UP! Young South African Women Share Stories of Identity, Gender, and Violence

Root Barrett

Traditional patriarchal and cultural norms in South Africa, coupled with the legacy of the systemic, state-sanctioned violence of Apartheid over generations, has fueled a society with one of the world’s highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence against adolescent girls and young women. Grassroot Soccer leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize South African youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and be agents for change in their communities. The organization works with young adult mentors to incorporate sport in dynamic, interactive lessons that provide a safe space for engaging adolescents, deconstructing harmful gender norms, preventing violence, and encouraging participants to seek sexual and reproductive health services.

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Christensen Fund: Stories of Land, Rights, and Culture: Indigenous Community Members in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, and Tajikistan Document Their Efforts to Protect Human Rights and Preserve Traditions

Emily Paulos

Dominant narratives about the “development agenda” often fail to consider the needs and desires of indigenous communities, who face disproportionate threats to their rights and cultural traditions as a result of land grabs, climate change, and pressures to adopt “modern” farming practices and ways of life. The Christensen Fund takes a holistic approach to supporting indigenous communities in regions around the world in their efforts to maintain a connection to their lands, preserve their languages and cultural practices, and pursue legal and political channels to protect their human rights.

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Marie Stopes International: Youth Like Me - Youth Stories in Papua New Guinea and Ghana Support Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health

Emily Paulos

While recognition is growing within the international public health community about the importance of tailoring sexual health services to the specific needs of young people, youth in Papua New Guinea and Ghana struggle to access the health education information and specific reproductive health services they desperately need. Marie Stopes International (MIS) has for many years been developing innovative ways to address these gaps, in collaboration with its in-country partners around the world.

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Saathi Nepal: Voices for Justice - Survivors Link Their Personal Stories to Public Policy for Ending Violence Against Women in Nepal

Emily Paulos

Violence continues to exact a devastating toll on the lives of many Nepalese women and girls. After years of concerted advocacy by women’s and civil society groups in Nepal, the national government enacted legislation in 2009 that is designed to protect the rights of Nepali women impacted by domestic violence. Saathi Nepal, a non-governmental organization working at all levels of Nepali society to eliminate violence and injustice against women and provide support to victims/survivors, was instrumental in the passage of this law.

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Learn From My Story: Rural Ugandan Women Share Difficult Childbirth Experiences and Talk About the Relief of Overcoming Obstetric Fistula

Emily Paulos

Despite the devastating impact of obstetric fistula (a severe medical condition caused by obstructed vaginal delivery during childbirth) on the lives of thousands of women and girls each year, the international health community has until recently largely neglected the problem. The ACQUIRE Project has responded by working with national governments and local partners to strengthen existing and/or implement new comprehensive fistula initiatives. The ACQUIRE approach is holistic, collaborating with stakeholders at the facility and community levels on strategies that can prevent fistula from occurring in the first place, increase women’s access to clinical treatment and counseling, and provide rehabilitation services to help affected women reintegrate into their communities.

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GOJoven Program: Youth Leaders Speak: GOJoven Fellows Share Stories About Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Challenges and Successes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize

Emily Paulos

While tremendous strides have been made throughout the world to enhance the reproductive health of young people and support their quest for the information and services they need, youth in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize continue to face significant barriers to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and the protection of their sexual and reproductive rights. The GOJoven Program has been addressing these and related issues by building a cadre of Fellows in these four countries who work towards improving the health and rights of young people at local and national levels.

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Sonke Gender Justice: South African Men and Women Explore the Complex Relationships Among Gender, Violence, and HIV and AIDS

Emily Paulos

In the early 2000s, as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was concluding its work to document the atrocities of the apartheid era, crime rates exploded in many parts the country, HIV began to spread rapidly, and violence against women reached near-epidemic proportions. The Sonke Gender Justice Network was established in 2006 to support men, women, youth, and children across the South African Development Countries (SADC) region in achieving gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and reducing the spread of HIV and the impact of AIDS. Sonke employs social change- and human rights-based strategies to promote healthy, equitable societies.

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Instituto Promundo: Brazilian Youth Speak Out Against Family and Community Violence

Emily Paulos

Despite increased international attention to the devastating impacts on children and youth of experiencing and witnessing violence, rates of abuse and violence in families and communities across Brazil remain high. Instituto Promundo's mission is to promote gender equity and prevent violence against children, youth, and women in Brazil and around the world. Promundo’s Violence Prevention Program takes an interpersonal approach, which recognizes that beyond the emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects of infant and youth development, the social context in which children and youth grow also needs to be understood in order to unravel the causes and impact of violence.

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