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Standing Up for Girls in the Time of Trump

Here’s my latest from Girls’ Globe.

Girls' Globe

Trump is threatening the rights and well-being of adolescent girls domestically and globally, especially those whose skin color, religion and country of origin do not meet his approval. The person holding the most powerful and prestigious office in one of the most influential global nations is a sex offender who fetishes his daughter, believes “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing” and views girls and women as a sum of their sexual parts. He is now turning this disgusting misogyny and racism, xenophobia and many other forms of hate, into policy.

My work as an advocate for girls just got a lot harder.

My work, like all work, begins at home. I visibly resist hate for and with my own daughters, two immigrants of color who are growing up in a time when integral parts of their identity are being challenged. They, and all girls in…

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For their Dignity & our Humanity

It was an absolute honor to guest blog for K4Health, an important initiative to improve family planning and reproductive health services in low and middle income countries. I wrote about addressing the needs of married refugee girls. Do check out that post, For their Dignity and our Humanity: Responding to the Needs of Married Girls.


Curious about what I do in the DR Congo?

Here’s a blog post I wrote for Girls’ Globe.

I’m not sure what I love more: writing for Girls’ Globe or working with young women in the DR Congo. I certainly love both, and am especially happy when the two come together.

Happy reading!


Ending child marriage is family planning

Another Girls’ Globe blog from the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. I wrote this one about my presentation on ending child marriage.

Girls' Globe

In my work I travel to cosmopolitan cities and remote villages to assist girls and young women in living the lives that they want- and deserve- to live. Today as I sat before an audience of activists, scholars and practitioners to present my research on child marriage at the International Conference on Family Planning, I remembered one particular encounter in Ethiopia.

I was with a team of researchers conducting interviews at a rural health post in the Amhara Region, where 50% of girls are married by age 15 and 80% by 18. Mid-day an adolescent girl who couldn’t have been older than 15 arrived. She was carrying a large clay jug of water on her back. She wasn’t part of our group, but she talked to my Ethiopian colleagues and eventually came over and sat on the grass next to me.

It turns out that this girl was looking for contraception. The previous month she was forced…

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Sexual and reproductive health in emergencies

Check out my blog on sexual and reproductive health in emergencies as part of my Girls’ Globe series from the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

Girls' Globe

One of the most talked about issues at the International Conference on Family Planning was sexual and reproductive health in emergency situations, such as in conflict and displacement. Using the guidelines of the Minimum Initial Service Package (MSP), organizations and agencies working in emergencies offer comprehensive reproductive health services, including family planning, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, safe motherhood and prevention and response to gender based violence. They aim to provide girls and women with the resources for sexual and reproductive health in the most unstable, unpredictable and unsafe circumstances imaginable.

Representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) explained that sometimes girls and women receiving these services are in healthy relationships, but often they are not. Most seek reproductive health services because they have been victims of sexual violence. Sarah Knaster of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis explained that existing…

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A Space for a Voice – Stories about Family Planning

One of my latest posts for Girls’ Globe on FP Voices at the International Conference on Family Planning!

Girls' Globe

“When people see the headscarf,” Zahra Aziz explains, “they are thinking, ‘what’s a conservative Muslim girl doing with sex and family planning? I’m out there to break that mold.”

This week at the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, Zahra is breaking the mold by standing inside of a large white booth with a high-tech digital camera. As a consultant working for FPVoices, she’s greeting person after person, excitedly explaining that they can pose next to one of the four large wall prompts. The prompts, shaped like conversation bubbles, ask questions leading to why people are involved in family planning. Zahra snaps a picture of the posing participants and then prints two copies. Below their picture, the participants handwrite their personal response. One copy goes on the wall of the booth and the participants keep the other.

Zahra Zahra in front of the FPVoices booth


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Greetings from the #ICFP!

So here I am in Nusa Dua, Indonesia after the opening session of the 4th International Conference on Family Planning. I’m still spinning from UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin’s opening remarks: he spoke of the family planning needs of married girls.

This remark is monumental. Married girls are among the most marginalized and invisible groups of human beings. Child marriage negatively impacts every aspect of a girl’s life, and when she marries she loses control over her own body. Her husband not only controls her access to family planning, but he often denies her the ability to refuse sex. Forced sex is common, and all sex is rape because she is a child. Child marriage often leads to early first pregnancy, and together pregnancy and child birth remain the leading cause of death for very young adolescents in the Global South.

What does this mean? This means that delaying child marriage is family planning. This also means that we must figure out how to get past the power structures in a girl child’s marriage to provide her with access to all of her human rights, including family planning. I look forward to presenting on this topic here at the ICFP on Wednesday.

I’m happy to be in Indonesia this week, and even happier to known that married girls are on the global agenda. Thanks for remembering child brides today, Executive Director Osotimehin.





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