Six women and girls made stronger by supplies
This International Women’s Day meet six women and girls who are stronger, healthier and achieving their goals thanks to the support of UNICEF supplies.
For Ethiopian school student Farhia, 14, school was her favourite place. She made friends easily and was top of her class.
However, when COVID-19 arrived, schools throughout her county closed. “Suddenly our learning came to a halt,” says Farhia. An estimated 26 million students were affected, and the disruption was especially harsh on children in rural areas who did not have access to the internet for online learning.
The Ministry of Education, with support from UNICEF and partners, began to explore alternative learning options, including radio lessons. However, access to radio in rural areas of Ethiopia is as low as 29 per cent and television fares even lower at 11 per cent. To overcome this, UNICEF procured 20,000 solar radios for use by an estimated 72,000 children in remote villages.
“My radio is like a teacher in the house.”
Every morning Farhia switches on her radio and takes part in lessons on subjects like environmental science, social science and the Somali language. In the afternoon, she puts her radio in the sun to recharge its batteries.
Farhia’s dream is to become a doctor.
Girls can face many hurdles attending school, including a lack of basic hygiene supplies. In Chad, many girls skip school when they have their period because they don’t have access to menstrual hygiene items.
To help them pursue their education and fulfil their full potential, UNICEF provides reusable and washable sanitary pads.
"I couldn't afford the sanitary napkins they sell in shops, and these are reusable. I don't have to stay home during my period,” says 15-year-old student Halime.
In Chad, only a third of 15 to 24-year-old women and girls can read and write. Sanitary pads and menstrual hygiene programming will help keep girls in school and ensure equal opportunities for every child.
“Before girls were not coming to school,” says a teacher, Kaltouma. “But now there are lots of girls coming to school. In fact, there are more girls coming to school than boys,” she says. “That’s a good change.”
In South Sudan malaria is one of the leading causes of under-five mortality, but it is treatable and preventable. Mosquito nets are an affordable, yet very effective way of protecting children against malaria.
In October 2020, UNICEF distributed one thousand mosquito nets in Bienythiang in the Upper Nile state. The procurement and distribution meant mothers like Nyayoung were able to protect their children from the potentially deadly disease.
"So many people get malaria round here. It's awful. My neighbour died from it,” says Nyayoung. “I'm so pleased I now have a net for me and my baby."
Weam has never known anything but war. She was just four years old when the Syrian conflict began.
Her mother passed away from cancer shortly after the fighting broke out, and in 2019 her father was killed when their village was hit by airstrikes.
Weam and her siblings fled the village with her stepmother and took refuge in a camp for internally displaced people in Idlib Governorate, Syria. Having been forced to flee multiple times, Weam missed out on months of her education. However, she was able to resume her studies in January 2020 through a UNICEF-supported inclusive education programme which provided school supplies, including backpacks, and a non-formal education space for Syrian children.
Weam’s hope for the future is to complete her education and become a teacher, so she can help educate the next generation of Syrian children and ensure they have a brighter future.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women living in less developed regions. Over half a million cases are diagnosed annually, and an estimated 311,000 women die from the disease each year.
UNICEF is working to vaccinate millions of girls against HPV and aims to ensure at least 24 countries introduce the HPV vaccine in their national immunization programmes by the end of 2021. As of October 2020, 20 countries supplied through UNICEF have done so.
“Now I am protected against cervical cancer. This vaccine helped me a lot,” says Marie, 19, who was vaccinated against HPV through her school in Rwanda.
It gave me hope for tomorrow.
Marie is part of a growing population young girls who can hope for a future free of cervical cancer.
Despite logistical challenges caused by COVID-19, in 2020 UNICEF shipped over 12 million doses of the HPV vaccine to protect women and girls from the deadly disease.
On 23 January 2021, Cyclone Eloise made landfall in Mozambique, bringing powerful winds, torrential rain and severe flooding.
The storm damaged and destroyed farmland, vital infrastructure and thousands of homes, dealing another devastating blow to families still trying to put their lives together after Cyclone Idai struck, less than two years ago.
“I have not yet returned to my home. I know my house fell and I lost everything,” says Catarina in the Beira evacuation centre. “Fortunately, my children are doing well.”
UNICEF’s emergency teams deployed to Beira before Cyclone Eloise hit, allowing teams to quickly distribute prepositioned supplies, including hygiene kits, water purification products, tarpaulin sheets and essential medicine for up to 20,000 people.
“Today was a happy day. We received soap, sanitary towels and toothbrushes. Thank you for helping us with all these products!”