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Women Deliver: Young Women Deliver

June 9, 2010

The Women Deliver conference (www.womendeliver.org), is running June 7-9 2010 and the GAB team is present! It is a global meeting on maternal and reproductive health and the advancement of women and girls. Tune in today for live updates directly from the conference floor.

Photo via Women Deliver

In a very emotional morning conference, the theme of the day turned from technology’s role in maternal matters to the role of young people. Ashley Judd introduced the panel, which consisted of young people from across the world, and asked them about their roles, commitments, and the initiatives that they have taken in order to help women deliver.

When you invest in young women, it pays. Young women drive economic development. – Ashley Judd

Declaring that these young people are the “ultimate stakeholders”, Judd asked each of the panelists why they got involved in activism and what message do they have for the world. Shamila Keyani spoke about her work providing healthcare in Pakistan and explained how “some of these females are seeing a doctor for the first time in their lives.” Maihan Wali, an activist from Afghanistan explained how she couldn’t do the things she wanted to do as a kid–so she created a basketball team to bring girls together, as something to do, and as a way out. Maihan’s basketball league now includes over 40 schools in Afghanistan and she is looking to expand–but she needs support.

On controlling the HIV epidemic, Sarah Nkhoma from Malawi stresses that “for the future to be possible, you need to make sure the young people actually live” and that “we have to let people are HIV positive still deliver and people who aren’t HIV positive, don’t let them become HIV positive.” She recalled when her sister first told her that she was HIV positive and the message that she learned from her then regarding abstinence and contraception, she hopes to deliver to young women around the world.

Josh Nesbit from the US, spoke of his time working in a hospital in Milawi and how some patients were walking 80-100km just to receive medical care. He reported some success he had there, however, in the form of social networking. By changing patient tracking to SMS, he was able to greatly increase the efficiently of the daily processes. He went through text message training with the hospital staff and as a result, the number of patients able to be treated doubled.

On standing up to make a difference, especially in the face of repercussions from governments, Sarah declared that “Young people are afraid (of their governments). And I’ll probably get kicked out of University and arrested when I go back just by saying this.” But the panelists agreed that “failure is assurity of success” and risks must be taken in order to find change.

Being a leader is about choosing. You choose to stand up while everyone else chooses to sit down. And sometimes it comes with a cost. – Sarah Nkhoma, Malawi

In coming to the Women Deliver conference, Maihan was able to recognize that it is not just Afghanistan that has problems, but many other countries. And as long as the women around the world don’t give up, then neither can she.

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