This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
By Kate Grant
CEO, Fistula Foundation
March 8th, 2015 was International Women’s Day. It’s the 104th time the day has been celebrated. As women break barriers and crack glass ceilings in countries like the U.S., in much of the developing world, women and girls still face staggering challenges to their health and well-being. This week seems like the right day to recognize three of them.
Child Marriage: Did you know that one in three girls in the developing world marries before she turns 18? Too often these early marriages happen without a girl’s consent, depriving her of the chance to finish school and often resulting in her becoming a mother before she is physically and emotionally ready. This can result in birth injuries, such as obstetric fistula, and worse, maternal death. Childbirth isamong the leading causes of death among girls 15 – 19.
Obstetric Fistula: This childbirth injury is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, which leaves a young woman or girl incontinent and too often a social outcast. Poverty is at the root of this tragic, but preventable, problem that is most of the time treatable with surgery. There are at least one million women with untreated fistula who are leading lives of depravation, misery and isolation simply for trying to bring a child into the world.
Here’s a young woman I met, Goni, at age 15. She was married at 13, quickly became pregnant and delivered a stillborn baby at 14, and developed an obstetric fistula during delivery.
Continue reading this article on The Huffington Post.