Last night was one of those occasions when being a blogger feels like a real honour and a privilege. Along with around 25 other women – bloggers, vloggers and journalists – Save the Children invited me to a dinner in London. Hosted by the Guardian’s Zoe Williams, who has recently travelled to Nepal with Save the Children to learn about family planning there, the event gave us the opportunity to hear from a 17-year-old Ethiopian girl called Aselefe (centre in the photo), along with her interpreter Bethel (left in the picture).
Aselefe’s best friend has gone missing. Her boyfriend left her and she was thrown out by her family after becoming pregnant. Right now, Aselefe doesn’t know where her friend is.
With proper access to contraception and family planning services, this wouldn’t have happened, and the terrifying fact is that there are 222 million women around the world in a similar position. Women who do not have the power to plan their own families; who do not have access to contraception, who are forced to give birth at a young age before their bodies are ready for it, and who are not empowered to leave a safe space between their pregnancies.
We watched an incredibly powerful video last night which made me realise just how much I have taken for granted living in the UK. I have always assumed it was my right to choose if and when to have children, and how many to have. This is a stark reminder that there are many women around the world who do not have that choice, and it makes clear the effect that family planning (or lack of) can have on your life; your career, health, wealth, ambitions and opportunities.
As a result of her experiences, Aselefe has been inspired to work as a peer educator. “I hope to reach so many more people with information about sex education,” she said. “Contraception is just half the story, and age appropriate education for boys and girls is also essential.”
The improvements that Aselefe hopes for are entirely possible, and with your help we can make them happen. Tomorrow – Wednesday 11th July – David Cameron is hosting a family planning summit in London.
Save the Children is calling on world leaders to agree to commitments that would mean by 2020:
– nearly 3 million fewer babies dying
– more than 100 million fewer unintended pregnancies
– 200,000 fewer women and girls dying in pregnancy and childbirth.
Here is what you can do to help make that happen.
You can sign this petition to David Cameron.
If you’re on Twitter, you can tweet the PM: All women should have power to decide when & how many children they have. @number10gov pls #givegirlspower at #fpsummit. Lives depend on it.
It would be great to do that anytime today, but we are specifically hoping to create a Twitterstorm using the #givegirlspower hashtag at 11am on Wednesday morning.
If you want more information about the Give Girls Power campaign, you can find out more on the Save the Children website here.
The event finished last night with a short presentation from two bloggers – Christine Mosler and Eva Keogan – who have been involved in previous Save the Children campaigns. They are proof that bloggers and online activists can have a huge impact on policy and decision makers. This time last year, with the help of the blogging community, Save the Children successfully campaigned to get a commitment to funding for vaccines. That commitment saved 4 million lives in 4 hours.
Let’s see if we can do the same again this year, and secure a commitment from world leaders that will save the lives of women and children around the globe.
Thank you for your support.