Rights Denied: Adolescent Girls and Sexual Health: Our Untold Stories Contest Winner
We have a winner!
The Consortium of Universities for Global Health and Global Health NOW are excited to announce our pick for the 2022 Untold Global Health Story Contest.
Among over 57 entries, Roopal Thaker’s submission stood out.
She asked us to cover the plight of girls facing puberty without adequate knowledge of their bodies and rights.
In Kenya, this rite of passage is often a time of embarrassment and shame rather than an exciting transition to adulthood. Girls face myriad challenges that derail their education and safety, perpetuating cycles of poverty. Entrenched social norms (such as normalization of gender-based violence, and female genital cutting) amplify risk.
We were struck by the dire consequences: “In Kenya alone, 40% of 19-year-olds are pregnant or childbearing, the average age of first sex is 11.7, and 92% of those encounters are unwanted,” Thaker explained in her entry.
So many Untold Stories entries draw on lived experience, and Thaker’s is no exception. She told GHN what inspired her to submit this topic:
“Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, I experienced firsthand the myriad ways in which menstruation and puberty introduces shame and stigma into a girl’s life, and how gender norms constrain her overall health and life outcomes. Rather than being a time of joy and celebration, the onset of menstruation becomes an embarrassing, tragic event for a girl, with no safe answers about the life changes that she is experiencing. I was able to push back and find ways to thrive, but many adolescent girls do not have these opportunities.”
Roopal Thaker is Executive Director of ZanaAfrica, which works to created impactful, transformative solutions to problems faced by adolescents across Kenya.
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