How Young People Tackle the Climate Crisis Threatening their Pacific Island

Kiribati is one of the least developed countries in the Pacific with few natural resources, limited governance, institutional capacity, and infrastructure. Humanitarian crises are prevalent here, and the occurrence of extreme weather events is likely to increase due to the climate crisis as the sea levels rise and regularly flood coastal homes. 

Safeguarding Communities During Disasters 

Preparedness is key for the local communities. IPPF’s Member Association, the Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) has created a Humanitarian Youth Club. They meet regularly to plan rapid responses for their communities during a disaster.  

This initiative is designed to ensure access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare during crises for women, girls, and vulnerable groups. Theta, 25, is a member of one of the Humanitarian Youth Clubs. She talks about her experiences and hopes for Kiribati. 

Theta and her daughter. Photo: ©IPPF/Hannah Maule-Ffinch/Kiribati 

Facing Challenges on Remote Pacific Islands 

“People here are taught that the withdrawal method or cycle tracking are the only ways to manage family planning. That’s what I was doing when I found myself with an unplanned pregnancy, and I now have a one-year old daughter who I raise alone.  

We face a lot of challenges here, one of them is disasters and the second is unemployment and school drop out with our youth. A lot of people drop out at senior level of high school and start to be influenced by alcohol.

I think parents’ skills are lacking on how to raise the youth. They tell their children they are not good enough or smart enough. I don’t agree with this though, I think everyone has potential.  

Climate change here is affecting jobs, especially those who are fisherman. When there is a high tide and people can’t fish, there will be no money or earnings for that day, or even food for their family. Even the crops, eventually they will die due to too much hot sun.

There was one family in my community, whose livestock such as cabbage and pumpkins were killed by the saltwater. Even my family, we have lost all our pumpkins. My baby daughter should be able to eat vegetables – but now she cannot as they have all died.  

One of my neighbours – who lived in the area most affected by flooding – lost their house and livelihood due to the rising sea levels. They tried to secure the land with sandbags, but they got discouraged when the high tide would come through. They have now migrated away. 

Young People Leading Community Response to Climate Crisis

The youth in my village have been organized as a club since we were younger. We have been very active and now we are leaders. I have helped the Humanitarian Youth Club to apply for financial grants from the Australian High Commission [for $1,000]. I am recognized as the smartest member who can write in English.  

During the Humanitarian Youth Club meetings, we discuss as a group what we can do for the next strong tide.

We discuss where we can gather as a community and what we can do if even the Maneaba [town hall] floods. If the tide and wind is too strong, we need to go to another safer place, such as another community’s town hall.  

We have learned how to design a disaster plan for the community. We share our ideas on sexual reproductive issues such as STIs. The issues were demonstrated in a drama by youth in our community. One of the volunteers from KFHA described to us how it would feel to be a pregnant woman in a disaster. 

For now, I want to enjoy the chance to be in our own beloved country.

I will not move until the majority have already left. I want my daughter to grow up in the same place I grew up in. Isn’t that what most people would want?” 

This post was written by Nerida Williams, IPPF Senior Humanitarian Communications Advisor & Theta Kiraneti, Humanitarian Youth Club member, Kiribati. Share your insights in the comments section below!

Accessing Safe Abortion during Lockdown in Africa

We have seen how pandemics negatively impact access to reproductive health services, especially access to safe abortion. As the pandemic spread globally, MAMA Network saw a growing demand for self-managed abortion and access to telemedicine across Africa.

As a Network we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted availability and access to safe abortion medication and contraceptives. Transport is less accessible. Clinics have reduced hours or are closed. Services are more expensive and community activities are on hold.

MAMA Network is a regional movement of activists working to share evidence-based and stigma-free information about self-managed medical abortion.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information is shared with women at the community level across Sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2016, MAMA network was founded by Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) in Kenya and Women Help Women. Over the years, the network has supported organizations in their efforts to increase access to safe abortion services and information. This is possible through mentorship, coaching, trainings, sharing of information, joint activism and creating spaces for linking and learning.

The pandemic led to an increase in demand for self-managed abortion, post abortion care, contraceptives and telemedicine or tele-counseling. In May 2020, we launched three hotlines in Cameroon, DRC and in Zambia. This brings the total of hotlines in the network to 9 including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda. MAMA Network’s approach to telemedicine and tele-counseling trusts women to have autonomy over their bodies.

In Kenya, Aunty Jane Hotline (launched in 2012) provides reliable, safe and confidential information to save women’s lives.

The hotline is toll-free since 2018. Recently women calling the hotline faced difficulties in accessing misoprostol in pharmacies due to global shortage of commodities. Women who accessed services, said they were asked to pay between $90 and $250. Before COVID-19, services in private clinics were $30. Online campaigns by Aunty Jane Hotline have intensified, including virtual meetings and strategies to strengthen collaboration with service providers.

In Nigeria, Ms. Rosy Hotline (launched in 2014) is toll-free since 2016 and operates 24 hours daily. The hotline has received approximately 135,000 calls from across Nigeria. Aunt Kaki was launched in Uganda in 2017. In Tanzania, Shangazi Shani was launched in 2018. Women Help Women’s online platform also exists to assist women and girls from all over the world.

In Uvira, DRC Congo, MAMA partner organizations have supported at least 10 women to access safe abortion in recent weeks. The rise in transportation costs has created barriers in accessing reproductive health services. With secure communication; a WhatsApp group is used to record community cases and refer to nearby healthcare providers and clinics. Community champions are doing home delivery of pills, one on one counseling, and follow ups. They have noticed a spike in the demand of pregnancy prevention methods in the Uvira region.

Changed Women Project in Zambia offers in-person services on a case by case basis. “Public hospitals are overwhelmed, women and girls are not going to hospitals. They are sent back due to congestion and go back to quacks because they can’t be helped,” a representative said. In the previous week a girl in the community unsafely induced an abortion and suffered serious complications. Changed Women stepped in and assisted her to go for post abortion care at a government hospital.

MAMA Network has remained active to shine a light on the importance of access to information and services for safe abortion.

On May 28th, the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, we ran a campaign receiving support from 10 countries and collected 56 photos of solidarity with the hashtag #AbortionBeyondLockDown. The purpose of the campaign highlighted that despite the lockdown, safe abortion remains an essential service.

MAMA Network has also continued to implement capacity building webinars, providing necessary tools to support activists and actively fundraise to support community based organizations. These efforts have been successful and we expect to launch 4 more hotlines in 4 countries in the coming weeks.

MAMA Network (Mobilizing Activists around Medical Abortion) is a collaboration of grassroots activists and feminist groups based in Sub-Saharan Africa. MAMA Network is a Safe Abortion Action Fund grantee partner.

Innovative Solutions to Sexual Healthcare in Switzerland

Noemi, 24, is the youth network co-founder and coordinator for IPPF’s Member Association, Santé Sexuelle Suisse/Sexuelle Gesundheit Schweiz. Here, she shares her experiences and thoughts on the impact COVID-19 is having on sexual healthcare and young people, and talks about how the crisis can offer opportunities.  

The Impact on Sexual Healthcare  

Under normal circumstances, I’d be conducting strategic planning and advocacy work. I would be planning and implementing actions, campaigns and events for the Youth Network, and coaching, motivating and training youth volunteers.

The COVID-19 situation is impacting and intensifying my work. We have to focus on the most essential and basic needs concerning SRHR, which are now under threat. We have had to communicate as quickly as possible that abortion services are still available in all Swiss hospitals. The abortion rate dropped tremendously at the start of the pandemic, because women were afraid to go to the hospitals or didn’t know that abortion services are still provided. We contacted all the family planning centers that provide services concerning sexual health. We wanted to gather best practices in these times concerning the provision of contraception, including emergency contraception. We are closely monitoring the situation as best as possible to intervene in the media or get in contact with hospitals and pharmacies as soon as possible to keep people updated on services.

Getting Creative on Social Media  

Next to the monitoring and political work, I started a creative initiative during the COVID-19 isolation. With our Youth Network we created an artistic competition on our FB and Instagram platforms on issues such as masturbation, menstruation, coming out, female genitalia, and pornography.  

The aim is to enhance creativity and allow young people to reflect on sexual and reproductive health and rights in a creative way. The aim was also to offer something fun and positive in this difficult time. As a prize, we are awarding sex toys from a small queer sex store in Switzerland.  

The project has a lot of success; there are a lot of young people in Switzerland participating and thanking us for this initiative. Next to that we inform the young people in Switzerland through our social media channels about sexual health services which are still in place.  

A winning entry from the social media art competition @judendnetzwerk


Opportunities in a Crisis  

I’m sincerely hoping that this crisis helps to find sustainable solutions to problems and gaps in the health system, particularly concerning sexual and reproductive health, which have become visible during the pandemic.  

We could use this crisis for good and advocate for better access to abortion care. It should be made possible to consult via telephone or get medical receipts with online forms. Moreover, the temporary management of medical abortions – with mifepristone and misoprostol – at home during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy following a telephone or electronic medical consultation, rather than having to take the first dose at a health facility, like it is implemented right now in the UK, could become a long-term solution to improve the access to abortion.  

Women’s health and reproductive rights don’t end during a pandemic and we must continue to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and improve health and gender equality for all during and after the pandemic.  

A crisis like this offers an opportunity for innovative and sustainable solutions. It also provides a reclaimed sense of shared humanity, where people realize what matters most: the health and safety of their loved ones, and by extension the health and safety of their community, country and fellow global citizens.  

And basic health and safety requires comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.   

Noemi is a representative of IPPF’s European Youth Network; YSAFE.  Subscribe to IPPF’s newsletter for more engaging content about sexual healthcare. 

3 Gendered Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The World Health Organisation officially classified COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

While the full impact of this pandemic cannot be fully articulated yet, evidence from previous global crises indicates that the impacts of disease outbreaks are not gender-neutral.

Crises such as pandemics and natural disasters can exacerbate already existing gender inequalities. Successful efforts to address and mitigate the consequences of the pandemic will require considerations of its gendered impacts.

Here are 3 possible gendered impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Increased Burden of Care

In many societies, women and girls are responsible for the majority of domestic work and caregiving responsibilities within the family. According to estimates, women work (both paid and unpaid) 30 minutes to one hour more per day than men.

With schools closing and turning to online learning as a measure to limit the spread of the disease, women may have increased responsibilities in caring for their children and their education. Many will also have to manage a full-time job at the same time.

The traditional caregiving role of women also goes beyond the home. Women account for the majority of health care workers in many parts of the world.

Globally, 70% of the health care workforce are women. More than 90% of health care workers in the Hubei province in China, where the virus was first identified, are women.

As such, women are at the forefront of the fight against the disease and risk exposing themselves, as well as their families, to the virus. 

2. Lack of Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

During disease outbreaks, sexual and reproductive health services are not a common priority, as resources go towards dealing with emergencies. 

However, a number of organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated that reproductive health care, including abortions, are essential services that should remain available during emergencies. 

According to the WHO’s recommendation, sexual and reproductive health care should be available regardless of a woman’s COVID-19 status:

“Women’s choices and rights to sexual and reproductive health care should be respected irrespective of COVID-19 status, including access to contraception and safe abortion to the full extent of the law.”

The consequences of lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care services can be devastating, as previous disease outbreaks show. 

During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the maternal mortality rate rose by 70% as maternal health clinics in the region were forced to close.

Marie Stopes International explain that in the 37 countries where they operate, COVID-19 is causing delays in production and delivery of condoms and contraceptives, They estimate that this can lead to 11,000 pregnancy-related deaths, 2.7 million unsafe abortions, and 3 million unintended pregnancies.

3. Increased Risk of Gender-Based Violence

Countries in every corner of the world are seeing an increase in reports related to domestic violence – from India to France to the United States.

In Singapore and Cyprus hotlines have seen an increase in calls of 33% and 30%, respectively. Argentina has seen a 25% increase in domestic violence-related emergency calls since the start of the lockdown.

In a webinar about gender and COVID-19, UN Women’s Anita Bhatia highlighted this grim reality:

“Domestic violence is what we’re calling a shadow pandemic… We are asking for shelters to be designated as essential services [during COVID-19] and for police to receive additional gender-sensitive training.”

As the global economy struggles through the pandemic, gender-based violence can exacerbate financial issues. Violence against women and girls costs about 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars globally. 

These are just some of the many possible impacts of the current coronavirus pandemic related to gender. While authorities attempt to stop the spread of the virus, they cannot ignore the secondary impacts of this outbreak. 

Fighting for the lives of those infected must remain a priority. But deaths caused by gender-based violence, unsafe abortions, and childbirth also need to be considered. Disease outbreaks and global crises tend to exacerbate existing gender inequalities. The gendered impacts of COVID-19, then, must be an integral part of current and future efforts to address this pandemic.

5 Tips to Make Working from Home Work for You

At Girls’ Globe, we know a thing or two about working from home. Our small team works remotely from different cities, countries and time zones. But doing your job from home when you’ve been used to working in an office is a major adjustment. As more and more people across the world are being encouraged – or required – to work from home, we thought we would share some of the things we’ve learned along the way. We hope these tips can help you to stay healthy, happy and able to do your best work amidst great uncertainty and change.

Say Good Morning & Goodbye

To create a feeling of camaraderie when we aren’t arriving into the same physical space, we send each other a short voice note to say good morning at the start of our working day. Even if you have a morning team meeting scheduled first-thing, a quick hello ensures you start the day on a positive note. Plus, it helps to signal to your brain that the work day has begun – particularly useful if you are used to a commute to the office. The same applies at the end of the day. A quick message to your colleagues letting them know that you’re finishing up for the day can stop the afternoon drifting into evening without a clear transition from work to your own time.

Trial Different Tools

There are many, many, many excellent free tools available that can make collaborating remotely quicker, easier and more efficient. The best tools for your team will depend on the nature of your work, and so what works for us might not be what works for you. What will apply to everyone, though, is that it’s ok if the first thing you try isn’t the best fit. If your new project management app is still confusing everyone after two weeks, it might be worth giving an alternative a go. With so many options available, there’s no need to struggle with a tool that doesn’t serve you.

Create a Routine & Embrace the Benefits

Without the regular routine that comes with going to the office, days spent working from home can feel unstructured. By building yourself a routine that you can realistically stick to, you’ll be more likely to move through your day without getting distracted, bored or overwhelmed. Set times for phone calls, admin tasks, lunch breaks and coffees, put these in your calendar, and try as best as you can to stick to them each day. One of the biggest positives of working from home is the flexibility to fit your routine around other parts of your life, so make the most of this as much as the current situation allows. Listen to a podcast or put laundry on while you work, call a loved one at lunch time, or take a break to do some exercise.

Get Some Fresh Air

Even if you sit on a bus or a train most of the way, travelling to and from the office gives you daily opportunities for a breath of fresh air. Make sure you don’t lose out on that while working from home. Taking a short walk round the block or a local park before sitting down to start working can be a great way to boost your energy for the day ahead. If it’s not safe or possible for you to go outside at the moment, simply opening a window and standing by it while you have a tea or a coffee can have the same effect.

Separate Your Space

If at all possible, try to work from an area of your home that you can then move away from at the end of the working day. If you have a spare room or a study – great – but most people don’t have a home office waiting for them each morning. Even something as simple as working at your kitchen table during the day, then moving to your living room or bedroom to chill in the evening can create a distinction in your mind between work and the rest of your day. This is especially relevant at the moment, when many of us will be spending most, if not all, of our time in our homes.

Over the coming weeks and months it will be more important than ever to be patient and compassionate with one another while we face the many unknowns and uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes with our colleagues, team mates and employees. With children at home, relatives to care for and health and livelihoods at stake, many will be finding themselves in impossible situations.

Do you have experience of working from home? How do you make it work for you? Or, if you’re now doing it for the first time, what are you finding difficult?

Please leave a comment and the Girls’ Globe team will get back to you directly. With conversation and digital connection we can support one another through the challenges ahead.

Giving Girls the Power of Sight

Advocates know that the burden of inequality often falls harder on women and girls. What Seva Canada have found is that this uneven distribution extends to even the most basic ability: sight.

Of the 36 million people worldwide who are blind, 20 million of those are women and 1.4 million are children.

2 out of 3 children who are blind are girls.

Studies have found no biological differences to explain this incredible disparity. Rather, research shows that women and girl children are exposed more frequently to the factors that caused vision loss (like malnutrition or infectious diseases). They also access eye care services less often than men.


The perceived value of women may mean families or communities are less likely to invest in expensive healthcare to restore or treat degenerative eye problems.

And girls face the additional barrier of being too young to advocate for themselves, with fewer resources at their disposal.

Robbing a women or girl of her eyesight takes away more than her quality of life. It makes it significantly harder (if not, in some cases, near impossible) for her to improve her life or her family’s.


Some of the leading causes of blindness for women and girls are treatable or curable. According to Seva, a whopping 80% of blindness is either preventable or treatable.

That means 4 out of 5 people who are blind don’t need to be.

“When you give 1 person back their sight, you give 2 people back their lives.”

Seva has developed practical solutions, some very low-cost, to significantly reduce the burden of blindness and a lack of eye care in poor communities. These include connecting women and girls to care, providing glasses and medicine, and training for and provision of corrective surgery.

In the last year alone, Seva restored sight to 61,000 women and girls in low-income countries. Many more received eye care services and equipment.


The potential ripple effect of Seva’s work is huge.

When a girl can see, she can stay in school, she can work, she can become a full and active participant of a fair and equal economy; an integral part of uplifting a community and a country.