Drop in teen pregnancy
In 2008, a family planning programme in Colorado, USA called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative began. Six years later the results have been astounding: the teen pregnancy rate has dropped an impressive 40 per cent. The initiative provides intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants at little to no cost for low-income women at 68 family planning clinics in Colorado. In fact, the drop in teen pregnancies in Colorado has been so significant that it has had an impact of the teen pregnancy rate nationwide, and since 2008, Colorado has gone from being 29th to 19th place on the list of lowest teen pregnancy rates. The initiative isn’t without controversy, though. Since teenagers do not need parental consent to receive contraception, it has been said that the programme violates parental rights. But the good that the programme has done cannot be denied. “This initiative”, said Governor John Hickenlooper, “has saved Colorado millions of dollars. But more importantly, it has helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education, pursue their professional goals and postpone pregnancy until they are ready to start a family.”
The UN has a new face
We may know her as the bushy-haired know-it-all Hermione Granger, but the star of the Harry Potter series and blossoming heartthrob has been putting her fame to good use. Emma Watson has been involved with the promotion of girls’ education for several years, and previously visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts. Now UN Women, the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, has made her their new Goodwill Ambassador. “Emma embodies the values of UN Women”, said Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The engagement of young people is critical for the advancement of gender equality in the 21st century, and I am convinced that Emma’s intellect and passion will enable UN Women’s messages to reach the hearts and minds of young people globally.” Emma confirmed Mlambo-Ngcuka’s statement by saying, “Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life, that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.” The role of the Goodwill Ambassador is to promote the empowerment of young women and to serve as an advocate for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which is working to foster worldwide gender equality.
Afghanistan has hardly been an example of freedom and democracy, but they are well on their way. Two months ago, Afghanistan held their first-ever democratic presidential transfer. The presidential election in June of this year marked the first-ever democratic transfer of power from one elected leader to another in Afghan history.