Take a stand

Help shape the future for young women like Esther, Moussouba and Rita.

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Once upon a time there lived three young women, each bursting with potential and brimming with hopes and dreams for the future. From the mountains of Nepal to the bustling capital of Zambia, they courageously took their first steps on their chosen paths.

But they would soon discover the road ahead was lined with pitfalls, and that handsome princes are not always all they’re cracked up to be. Faced with unintended pregnancies, their hopes for a fairytale ending were shattered, but our three brave heroines decided to pick up the pieces and write their own stories to help others avoid the same fate.

It’s time to get real.

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One of the top academic performers at her school in Zambia's capital city, Esther was also a talented field hockey player and training with the national youth team. She had her heart set on playing around the world, as well as becoming a nurse or pharmacist.

Despite her education and ambition, Esther knew nothing about family planning. Her dreams for the future were shattered when she realized she was pregnant at 16. Esther cried the whole day she found out, not knowing what her future held.

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Abandoned by the father, she was forced to give everything up to look after her daughter.

“I was seeing myself getting into the national team, playing national games and you know doing big things then all of a sudden, I became pregnant. I felt like everything is going to be shattered.” - Esther

Esther’s grades plummeted, and everyone at school was talking about her.

But after her daughter was born, when Esther thought of the future, she knew she wanted to continue her education.

Thanks to the support of her family and coaches, Esther was able to start training again with the team and eventually returned to school. Passionate about ensuring other girls and young women are better informed about contraception and able to follow their dreams, Esther now works for MSI as a peer educator.

“I want to be a counselor or nurse, where I know I can help people. After my experience where I had no one to counsel me, I had no one to run to, so at least if I am a counselor people know oh ok, so there’s this place where you can go to and get help.” - Esther

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In the remote hills of eastern Nepal, girls are not educated like boys and are deprived of information, especially about family planning. Often, they are married young and have children at an early age.

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Rita’s story began like many others. Married at 16 with no knowledge of family planning, Rita soon became pregnant. But she refuses to accept that things can’t change – that life can’t be better tomorrow for girls in Nepal.

Working with MSI, she has set out to share information with women and girls in her community. However, her task is not easy. Talking about sexual health is considered taboo, especially for a young woman.

A lack of sex education also creates a breeding ground for frightening myths about modern contraception.

“One of the most shocking myths I have heard regarding family planning is that the IUD causes the death of a person from lightning.”
- Rita

Still, she walks for days and days, over steep hills traveling all over and talking to young people, teachers and parents about family planning.

But Rita says that her journey is easier than others. She remembers a teenage girl who got pregnant. When her parents found out, she was beaten and alienated by her community. Filled with shame and guilt, she took her own life.

“One life lost through ignorance is too many. That is why I keep going, rain or shine to spread understanding to my community.”
- Rita

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Moussouba & Malang

Moussouba first met local musician Malang at a party. Their feelings for each other deepened as time went on.

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Soon into their relationship, Moussouba felt was something was different in her body.

When she found out she was pregnant, she cried and cried. In Senegal, where sex before marriage is considered taboo, an unplanned pregnancy is nothing short of a disaster.

“When I got pregnant, I felt ashamed. It’s very difficult to have a baby without getting married here. I was studying and when I got pregnant, I had to stop my studies. I didn’t like to leave the house because there were so many eyes on me.” - Moussouba

Her world crumbling around her, Moussouba packed her bags to escape the community’s judgement. But Malang convinced her to stay. After Moussouba gave birth, she visited MSI to protect herself from another unintended pregnancy.

Their experience has made them passionate about teaching other young people about the benefits of contraception. Malang has even written a song about it that they perform to young people in their community.

“We are not ashamed to talk about these things. If we use contraception, we can have whatever we want in life.”
- Moussouba

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