Hopes for the Future after the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25

This week, Girls’ Globe has been on the ground at the Nairobi Summit to amplify the voices of grassroots activists, youth leaders and passionate advocates. 25 years ago, in 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development adopted a landmark Programme of Action. There has been significant progress since then, but dramatic inequality remains, and we have a long way still to go. What happens after this year’s summit is crucial.

In this video, we hear from women about their hopes and visions for the future.


“My vision is that we will have all girls being able to access sexual and reproductive health knowledge and rights.”
– Mourine Achieng, Moving the Goalposts

The Girls’ Globe team, led by Felogene Anumo and Abigail Arunga, spoke to women who had participated in the 2019 Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 and asked them what they hope to see next.


“It is my hope that we no longer have young people defined by their sexual and reproductive health rights”
– Jane Anika, Beijing 25+ Youth Task Force

This year’s summit renewed global focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights. A future where all rights of all people are fully realised is possible. By listening to the voices of women and girls, and by responding to their perspectives and priorities, we stand a far greater chance of achieving this ambitious yet crucial goal.

Catch up with all of Girls’ Globe’s coverage of the Nairobi Summit here.

This reporting was supported by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundaiton.

Lina Lindahl: Change is Constant

In this episode of The Power of Your Story Podcast, Girls’ Globe founder Julia Wiklander speaks with Lina Lindahl. Lina and Julia are good friends, and this honest conversation takes place in Lina’s living room in Malmö, Sweden. After living in the United States for 10 years, Lina’s visa was rejected and she was forced to return to Sweden – a place that no longer felt like home. She talks about overcoming setbacks, changing paths, identity, community and family.

Lina’s confidence has taken her far in life, but she asks, “What happens if you fail, who are you then? Who am I without my success?”


“We are afraid of showing ourselves when it is not a success story. And just talking about our fears and our failures, and seeing that from others might change the conversations we have with people.”

The Power of Your Story Podcast is made in partnership with SayItForward.org – the platform where every woman and girl is encouraged to share her unique story of overcoming the fears, personal beliefs or circumstances that have held her back.

Lina now dedicates her life to empowering others through yoga. She shares her story of picking up the pieces when life didn’t turn out as she had envisioned it.

“We are so focused on wanting to make change. But accept, and then change will come. Because, that’s the only thing we know, in life, change is constant. So trust that.”

The Power of Your Story Podcast is an interview series with women from around the world. You can find it where podcasts are found! As this is a brand new podcast, we would love for you to share it with others and rate it in whichever app you use.

Gayle’s Birth Story: knowledge is power

In this episode, Gayle tells us about two very different births that took place over 20 years ago. I am, as always, amazed by how crystal clear this experience is for us – even many years later. The process and the feelings that are created are timeless and never go out of date.

“You can’t script a birth and you can’t script your life.”


The Positive Birth Story Podcast features empowering & positive stories about birth. Swedish midwife Åsa Holstein shares her in-depth knowledge of birth and speaks to brave women who share their personal stories. This is a podcast with women, for women about the super power that resides in all of us.

Find all episodes of The Positive Birth Story Podcast here.

Krissy’s Birth Story: the greatest meditation

The Positive Birth Story Podcast is back! In this episode we hear from Krissy Shields – founder of Maha Mama. She shares two very diverse experiences of giving birth – one hospital induced and one at home.


The Positive Birth Story Podcast features empowering & positive stories about birth. Swedish midwife Åsa Holstein shares her in-depth knowledge and speaks to brave women who share their personal stories. This is a podcast with women, for women about the super power that resides in all of us.

Find all episodes of The Positive Birth Story Podcast here.

Nancy’s Birth Story: taking charge of your experience

In this episode we hear from Nancy. Despite more interventions than she wished for, giving birth was ultimately an empowering experience for her. It’s wonderful to hear her talk about her Baby Shower, where she gathered the women in her family and asked them to share their birth wisdom to help her prepare. Women’s stories are incredibly powerful!


The Positive Birth Story Podcast features empowering & positive stories about birth. Swedish midwife Åsa Holstein shares her in-depth knowledge of birth and speaks to brave women who share their personal stories. This is a podcast with women, for women about the super power that resides in all of us.

Find all episodes of The Positive Birth Story Podcast here.

Motherhood in Conflict: Colleen’s Story

In northern Uganda, many mothers have lived through armed conflict. Some gave birth in a time when murder, abduction, mutilation and rape were common practices. It was a time when child soldiers were forced to kill loved ones. What would it be like to become and be a mother in this context?

Colleen* is one of the women I grew very close to during my time volunteering in a counselling centre in Northern Uganda. Like Achola, she told me about her experiences of motherhood during and after the war.

Becoming a Mother in a Conflict Zone

I visited Colleen at her home in rural Ngetta, close to the city of Lira in the northern part of Uganda. The region has been badly affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency. There were great consequences for all, and especially for pregnant women and mothers.

Colleen told me that she was abducted by rebels from the LRA when she was only 15. She escaped them by hiding in the open stem of a bush. Colleen told me that she became a mother at the same time as losing both of her parents, who were killed by the rebels. She spoke about how hard it was to flee from the rebels night after night, while ensuring the safety of her siblings and her baby.

Colleen’s experiences of the war have been debilitating, and she is still recovering. Though the war ended more than a decade ago, Colleen continues to be in emotional and physical pain. She tells me:

“When I was with my baby hiding in the bush, somebody stepped on my waist. It affected my waist so much up to date. Whenever I laugh, I could just fall unconscious for some minutes. It is still painful.”

What is very striking about Colleen’s story is that it demonstrates that life after war can still be filled with terror. For Colleen, the days of violence are not over.

‘Post-Conflict’ Motherhood

Just after Colleen had been abducted by the rebels, she was married at 16 to her current husband. The day I spoke with her, he was out working on nearby land. Colleen leaned towards me and whispered in my ear:

“I never wanted to marry him, my brothers forced me to marry him cause they needed money and animals [bride price] so that they can marry their wives.”

The practice of bride price is one of many practices that highlight the negative effects of poverty and patriarchy on women’s wellbeing.

The women I worked with told me that in their communities, girls are usually seen as a commodity by both their natal family and their new husband. As soon as a girl is born, she is a source of income for her family. This puts girls and young women at great risk of being forced into early or childhood marriage. This is exactly what happened to Colleen.

Colleen is now in an unhappy and abusive marriage. The years of grabbing her children and running into the bush have not been forgotten. These days, however, when she runs with her children it is not to escape the rebels, but the violence of her husband.

For Colleen, instead of a safe place, her home is a place of terror.

The end of the conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army was supposedly meant to be time of peace. For many women, however, peace-time violence continues to disrupt and negatively influence their well-being.

Colleen’s Way Forward

Though Colleen’s daily life is characterized by the violent relationship with her husband, it does not define her. Colleen experiences a lot of joy in the relationship with her children, and with her female friends who she meets in her neighbourhood and in the local counselling centre. The women often sing and dance together:

“During the rebel time there was no music, now there is music and we can dance and feel better. I dance! … I always dance and listen [to music] because it is telling me about peace, if it is gospel it is counselling me also. There are songs which you listen to and it teaches you about peace.”

Community groups, the church, gospel songs and the local counselling centre are all crucial for Colleen’s recovery. We need to acknowledge the importance of creativity and body work in psycho-social and mental health support. For Colleen, dancing and singing is not only simply enjoyable, it also offers a way of healing.  

*Colleen is a pseudonym. The image accompanying this article does not depict the woman who told this story.