Invest in Girls Education – INSPIRATIONAL VIDEO

Educate in our World Future: Invest in Girls!

A critical focus of the Women and Health Initiative is to educate the next generation of leaders in the field of women and health. The W&HI helps identify existing courses and fellowships available at Harvard and is working to add new ones to fill the gaps in educational opportunities.
The work of the Women and Health Initiative builds upon and complements the on-going educational training offered by  the HSPH interdisciplinary concentration on Women, Gender, and Health (established in 2002) and also the newly established  interdepartmental concentration on Maternal and Child Health/Children, Youth,  and Families.
Dr. Ana Langer developed “Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Global Perspective” (GHP 231), a new course that complements existing educational opportunities for HSPH students interested in this critical component of women’s health.
In addition, Dr. Langer is formally and informally advising numerous students currently engaged in or planning to focus their careers on women’s health in developing countries.

The situation of women and girls: facts and figures

Gender and HIV/AIDS

  • Nearly  a third of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are under the age of 25 and two thirds of them are women.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are getting infected faster and earlier than boys. In the 15 to 24 age group, two girls are infected for every boy.
  • Surveys indicate that compared to women who have some post primary schooling, women with no education are five times more likely to lack basic information about HIV/AIDS.
  • In 2002, an estimated 800,000 children under the age of l5 were infected with HIV, the vast majority (90 per cent) as a result of parent-to-infant transmission.
  • By 2001, UNICEF and its UN Agency partners were supporting 80 programmes in 16 countries to help mothers avoid passing on the virus to their infants. Between l999-200l these programmes reached 300,000 new clients.
    See the HIV/AIDS module for more information

Gender and girls’ education

  • Over 110 million of the world’s children, two thirds of them girls, are not in school.
  • Of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults, two thirds are women.
  • During the 1990s, gender parity in primary school enrolment improved in all regions world-wide and in nearly two thirds of the countries with available data. UNICEF is supporting 25 countries to accelerate progress towards achieving gender parity in primary school enrolment by 2005.
  • Half of the girls who live in developing countries (excluding China) will be married by their 20th birthday. Increasing girls’ time in school is one of the best ways to foster later, chosen marriage.
    See the Girl’s education module for more information

Gender and violence against women and girls and child protection issues

  • Data shows that at least one in every three woman is a survivor of some form of gender-based violence, most often by some one in her own family. [1999 Johns Hopkins global report]
  • Girls between 13 and 18 years of age constitute the largest group in the sex industry. It is estimated that around 500,000 girls below 18 are victims of trafficking each year.
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) affects l30 million girls and women globally and places 2 million at risk annually. The prevalence of FGM remained stable at levels above 90 per cent in many countries during the last decade, with little improvement over the years.
  • UNICEF supports strengthening knowledge and understanding of gender violence and abuse in many countries and addresses the need for reform of legal systems and policies.
  • In some cultures the preference for boy children results in pre-natal sex selection and infanticide of girls. In India, for example, there are 933 Indian women for every l,000 men, resulting in 40 million ‘missing’ women.
    See the Child protection module for more information

Gender and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and other health issues

1,400 women die every day from pregnancy-related causes, 99 per cent of them in developing countries.

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman has a one in three chance of dying in child birth. In industrialized countries, the risk is 1 in 4,085.
  • Direct obstetric deaths account for about 75 per cent of all maternal deaths in developing countries.
  • UNICEF currently supports emergency obstetric care in the 12 countries with the highest MMR.
    See the Early childhood module for more information


  • More than 80 per cent of the world’s 35 million refugees and displaced people are women and children.
  • Emergencies puts women at risk of extreme sexual violence and abuse. In Rwanda, for example, 2,000 women, many of whom were survivors of rape, tested positive for HIV during the five years following the 1994 genocide.
    See the Emergencies module for more information

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