By Robin Gardner
In 2016, ICRW will celebrate 40 years of ground-breaking research and advocacy as pioneers in various fields, including HIV and stigma and child marriage. But before we move into the New Year and ahead of this exciting milestone, please enjoy this look back on 2015 and our top ten achievements from this past year, as chosen by ICRW’s staff.
To celebrate the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the UN General Assembly and ICRW’s advocacy to include a focus on adolescent girls, ICRW hosted an event, “Central or Sidelined: Examining How Girls Fared in the 2030 Agenda,” where actor, activist, and author Ashley Judd provided opening remarks and moderated a conversation between four adolescent girls from around the globe. The girls spoke about the importance of protecting the rights of children and adolescence as we look to the agenda to end global poverty and create gender equality by 2030.
ICRW, in partnership with the World Bank, released the initial findings of a study on the social and economic costs of child marriage. The findings show, in addition to the harmful effects on girls’ health, education, rights, and well-being, the economic impacts of child marriage from the individual to the national levels are significant.
In March, ICRW presented the Champions for Change Award to three extraordinary awardees: The Rt Hon William Hague MP, for his global leadership to end sexual violence in conflict; Mabel van Oranje, Chair of Girls Not Brides, for her innovative and far-reaching work to prevent child marriage; and Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, for her vision and tireless advocacy to end human trafficking and modern day slavery.
The new Parivartan for Girls program, which combines sport, discussion sessions, and educational activities, has completed its first full year! In partnership with the Maharashtra State Kabaddi Association and local community development NGO Apnalaya, ICRW brings together young women mentors with girls ages 12-16 in one slum community in Mumbai twice a week to play Kabaddi, an Indian contact sport, and discuss topics ranging from life skills and health, to gender, violence and sexual harassment
ICRW’s Suzanne Petroni joined with colleagues to draw attention to a startling statistic: suicide is now the leading cause of death for girls worldwide aged 15 to 19. The article, featured in the global health publication The Lancet, points out that the statistics expose two blind spots in global health and development: mental and adolescent health.
ICRW and partners developed new ways to measure HIV-related stigma and discriminatory attitudes that were included in the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), a USAID-supported survey conducted in more than 90 countries around the world. These new measures will allow ministries of health and the U.S. government to better understand how stigmatizing beliefs and behavior affect people living with HIV, so we can help those living with HIV to lead better, healthier lives and ensure we stem the further spread of HIV.
Do you shop at one of Gap, Inc.’s flagship stores? If so, you may have received an email announcing their intention to expand P.A.C.E., an education program for their garment factory workers, to reach one million women worldwide. ICRW helped create this innovative program in collaboration with Gap, Inc. and has been evaluating it since its inception. Gap spoke to Fortune Magazine about the significance of this program, highlighting ICRW’s partnership and our findings.
ICRW partnered with Banyan Global to develop the Child, Early, and Forced marriage (CEFM) Resource Guide, which provides guidance on how CEFM prevention and response can be integrated into key programming sectors and strategies. While the Guide was developed for USAID, it can also be used by development practitioners, policy-makers, and anyone interested in learning more about how they can tackle child marriage in existing programming.
What is happening to women in India who choose sterilization or IUDs as a form of birth control? Do they have access to quality care? Or, are they undergoing these procedures in unsanitary conditions? Our report, released in early 2015, exposes the risks to women’s health in in sterilization clinics in Bihar, India and provides recommendations moving forward to improve the quality of women’s reproductive health care.
ICRW completed a five-year study, funded by USAID and in partnership with the Population Foundation of India, to assess the impact of conditional cash transfers to families who delayed marriage for their daughters until she reached 18 years of age. The results help shed light on the difficulties in changing centuries-old discriminatory beliefs about the value of girls. To speak to this more, ICRW’s Ravi Verma spoke with NPR’s Goats and Soda’s blog to answer questions about the harmful practice of child marriage as part of their highly successful ‘#15girls’ series.