Why Women and Girls?


The world has already developed a consensus on women’s importance to development. For decades, the global community has responded to the notable efforts of the global women’s movement and has moved away from demographic centered population and development policies toward putting human rights and women’s equality at the center.  At the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the United States joined a clear consensus that stated that “[t]he empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their political, social, economic and health status is a highly important end in itself. In addition it is essential for the achievement of sustainable development.”

CHANGE believes women and girls should be central to U.S. sexual and reproductive health policy, not because they are more deserving or more vulnerable than men--rather, we believe that women must be equal partners in each society’s governance and development, both because it is their right and because global development cannot take place without their energy and ideas. Additionally, because of their multiple roles as family caregivers, community activists, and civil society leaders, women have critical insight on human needs that cannot be excluded from development planning.

Men and boys are key partners in this effort. Their needs and wellbeing are also undermined by gender stereotypes, and they have a great deal at stake in ending gender-based violence, lowering maternal mortality, and ensuring healthy lives for women and girls.

See CHANGE's Policy Brief A Woman-Centered Approach to the U.S. Global Health Initiative

Source60,000The number of maternal deaths attributed to HIV in 2008.

Source52%Women make up approximately 52% of the total global population living with HIV.

Source8In sub-Saharan Africa, women 15-24 years old are 8 times more likely than men to be HIV positive.

Source#1Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age.

Source15.9 millionOf the 33.3 million adults living with HIV in 2009, 15.9 million were women.

Source60%Women account for approximately 60% of the HIV/AIDS population in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source5Worldwide, women are 5 times more likely than men to contract an STI.

Source85%85% of the world's 3.3 billion females live in low-income countries.

Source16 millionEach year there are approximately 16 million births to adolescent mothers.

Bridging the Gender Gap: How big data can improve the lives of a billion women and girls

You can see the gender bias inherent in development by looking closely at the recent history of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. Women do a majority of the farm work in that part of the world, but many agricultural programs are instead designed to reach the minority of male farmers.

Posted on July 18, 2013

Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the centre of UNECE recommendations…

The European Regional conference Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century was organized by UNECE and UNFPA in Geneva on 1-2 July 2013. It was the culmination of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) review in the UNECE region comprising Europe, central Asia and North America.

Posted on July 16, 2013

US House votes not to reauthorise domestic violence funding bill

Violence Against Women Act (Vawa) passes Senate but is not renewed after Republicans take issue with new provisions

Posted on January 2, 2013

An Idea to Change the World: Empower Girls

Across the world today, teenage girls are making their voices heard and promoting a transformational idea: empower adolescent girls everywhere. As part of the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up campaign, girls and other supporters are holding more than 50 events in nine countries to celebrate the "International Day of the Girl Child," a day to recognize the power of girls across the world and to advocate for their rights.

Posted on October 11, 2012

Women and HIV

What is it with women and girls? Why are we always left behind? Why can’t we choose the things we want to be a part of? Why must we always race to the front, rather than be left peacefully alone when we would rather not partake? Is it because, as women, we are strong, powerful, and the foundation of our society?

Posted on June 3, 2011

Former Chilean President to Lead New U.N. Agency

UNITED NATIONS — Michelle Bachelet, famous for breaking gender barriers by becoming the first woman elected president of Chile, will head the new global United Nations agency created to advance women’s rights, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Tuesday. Mr. Ban said he chose Ms. Bachelet, 58, from 26 candidates for her political skills and ability to create consensus. She had been a front-runner from the start.

Posted on September 14, 2010

Hillary Clinton Touts Global Health Initiative as Key Foreign Policy Tool

"What exactly does maternal health or immunizations or the fight against HIV and AIDS have to do with foreign policy?" Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton queried a packed crowd of faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies on Monday. "Well, my answer is 'everything.' "

Posted on August 17, 2010

MDG Goals Panned for Isolating Women’s Rights

The Millennium Development Goals' treatment of gender equality and women's empowerment as a "key goal in itself" and not as a "basic human right."

Posted on August 5, 2010

U.S. Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls & SRHR

Sixty-two million girls are not in school and 250 million adolescent girls are living in poverty worldwide. To address this global challenge, in March of 2016, the U.S. Department of State released the United States Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls. What does it mean for SRHR?

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Women’s Rights at Home and Abroad: A Call to Action U.S. Civil Society Shadow Report on Beijing+20

NGO Report on Gaps in the Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in Response to the U.S. Government’s 2015 Report on U.S. activities related to the Twentieth Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the Adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Addressing the Sustainable Development Goals and their Implementation in the United States and Globally

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U.S. Civil Society Shadow Report on Beijing+20

The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have issued a shadow report on the U.S. Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

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Fact Sheet: Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act

The Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act (H.R. 1319) establishes U.S. policy and authorizes assistance to support universal access to sexual and reproductive health care in developing countries, including contraception and safe abortion.

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Policy Recommendations: Married Women and HIV: Comprehensive Prevention

In the absence of community-based efforts to alter the social structures that promote infidelity, public health programs which aim to reduce married women’s risk by telling men to be faithful will not succeed.

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Research Summary: Marital Sex and the HIV Risk for Women Worldwide

Globally, women’s risk of contracting HIV is heightened if they are married, largely due to men’s extramarital sexual relationships. Despite this clear risk, current efforts to prevent the spread of HIV fall far short of protecting married women.

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Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Ethiopia

On July 5-9, 2010, three U.S. state legislators traveled to Ethiopia to better understand the role of U.S. foreign assistance aimed at improving the quality of reproductive health care. This report documents that trip and makes recommendations for improving effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in Ethiopia.

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Fact Sheet: Female Condoms

The basics of the female condom, the most up-to-date statistics, its level of social acceptability, and the need for increased distribution of female condoms globally.

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