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Let’s help #GirlsChooseSchool with reproductive choice

Tuesday 27 July 2021 Contraception, Safe abortion and post abortion care, Young people

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This week, the UK Government will co-host the Global Education Summit, with a focus on girls' education. However, when millions of girls are forced out of school every year due to unplanned pregnancy, current cuts to reproductive health put these global commitments at risk. Join MSI in showing how we can help #GirlsChooseSchool with reproductive choice.

When girls can access quality education, they are better able to pursue a career, create opportunities in their communities and drive positive change in wider society. Each additional school year can increase a woman’s earnings by up to 20%. And at a time when many low-income countries are suffering the economic fallout of the pandemic, supporting girls to stay in school is not just the right thing to do, it is essential to economic recovery.

Despite the benefits, many girls and young women continue to be denied what they need to thrive. Ahead of the pandemic, UNESCO estimated that 130 million girls were out of school, with COVID-19 likely driving these figures higher. Poor access to sexual and reproductive plays a key part in this. The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health recently reported that one-third of teenage girls who drop out of school, do so because of an unintended pregnancy or marriage.

As Blessing, an adolescent contraceptive client with MSI Nigeria, shared with one of our providers: “My mother dropped out of school at age 19 and my two aunties did the same. The one thing that was common between them was unplanned pregnancy. My ambition is to finish secondary school, go to university and achieve my dream of becoming a lawyer. But I have to protect myself to see my dream come true.”

Recent analysis from MSI has found that by increasing access to reproductive healthcare services for young people, we could support up to four million more girls in sub-Saharan Africa to stay in school, every year. To support girls and young women to remain in education, we need to ensure they have access to the healthcare services they want and need to have safe relationships on their terms, avoid unplanned pregnancy and determine their own futures.

At MSI, we know we can drive access for young people at scale. Since launching MSI’s adolescent strategy in 2017, MSI has provided over 4.3 million adolescents with reproductive choice. Last month alone, we delivered sexual and reproductive healthcare to over 150,000 young people. However, with recent drastic cuts to UK aid for international sexual and reproductive healthcare programmes, including those specifically for young people, adolescent access to reproductive choice – and the UK’s commitments to girls’ education - is put at risk.

At the Global Education Summit, MSI and partners will be pushing for governments and donors to seize the moment and ensure that access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights is part of the global education response. On Monday 26th July, we joined Helen Grant MP, the UK Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Girls' Education, alongside partners at Plan International, UNFPA, SheDecides and others for a Summit side event on how we can support more girls to stay in school with reproductive choice and comprehensive sexuality education.

Throughout the week, we will be sharing frontline stories from our programmes across the world that show the power of reproductive choice in helping #GirlsChooseSchool. We welcome you to join us in ensuring reproductive choice remains central to the Summit discussions, by tweeting via #GirlsChooseSchool, tagging @msichoices, or by sharing one of the following tweets:

  • A lack of access to reproductive choice for young people puts #GES2021 commitments on girls' education at risk. Join @MSIchoices in calling on governments to help #GirlsChooseSchool with access to the healthcare they need to determine their own futures:

  • Across sub-Saharan Africa, up to 4 million girls are forced to leave school every year due to pregnancy. 
    By supporting girls to access reproductive choice, governments at the #GES2021 can help #GirlsChooseSchool.

It only costs £6 per year – or 2 pence / 3 cents per day – for MSI to provide a woman or girl with life-changing reproductive healthcare, giving them the power to decide if or when to become pregnant. This reproductive choice helps keep girls in school, supports women to lead, and helps build more equal communities. Join us in making choice possible.

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