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Op-Ed: Humana People to People: working hand in hand with women and girls for positive change

HPP members are at the forefront of global development efforts, leveraging young women and girls to advance their social, health, economic and health rights.

International Women's Day (IWD) celebrated annually on 8 March, has become a significant commemorative event for the Federation Humana People to People (HPP) its members and partners globally. IWD provides an opportunity for reflection, reminding us how those before us fought for basic human rights for the poorest, the marginalized and the vulnerable in an effort not only to improve, but sustain their livelihoods.

As the world commemorates this significant day, we join hands with our HPP members and partners, recognising the milestones that women have made in rising to the fore, from education, to health, to agriculture - some even taking their seats in the political work. Still, much has to be done to ease the gender divide, allowing more women to take and uphold their rightful place in society - be it in the workplace, the community, or in the household.

Our work in the global south, hand in hand with women, has resulted in positive in-roads, significantly at community level where adolescent girls and young women continue to face gender inequities, lack of access to quality education and little opportunity for accelerating their advancement due to social and traditional norms that leave them disadvantaged.

Our HPP member project efforts speak to women's needs, directly addressing these important social and development challenges - as well as underlying issues of stigma, discrimination, inequity and exclusion.

Over the last five years, HPP India implemented a number of large-scale education, community development and empowerment projects, benefitting more than 250 000 women across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand and Bihar, positively impacting not only the women, but their immediate families and the wider local communities.

In South Africa, the Total Control of Epidemic KwF project integrated youth-targeted adolescent young girls and women to improve uptake of HIV testing services. This year alone, 105 694 male and females were tested for HIV, leading to positive changes in attitudes and sexual behaviour.

In Mozambique, the Nikhalamo Girls Stay in School project improves school retention and completion rates of last grade primary education, ensuring transition of vulnerable girls into secondary school education. In 2018, 1257 girls were enrolled in primary school and the first class of secondary school; 920 vulnerable boys and girls were enrolled in community pre-schools; and 1307 girls were retained in primary and secondary schools. The project revitalised 21 reading circles and established five new primary schools as a method of improving academic performance.

In line with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that call for gender equity, access to inclusive education and health for all, our HPP efforts and member activities are ambitious; we remain committed, even bolder and inclusive in our goal - to see young women and girls drive their own development, as individuals, at household level, and at community level.

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