As in many public health emergencies, adolescent girls and young women are among the most marginalized and at-risk population during this crisis. In the face of this national disaster, the Let Girls Lead (LGL) network of organizations in Liberia is working to save families from Ebola.
Dress codes facilitate abuse, first by enforcing the notion that there is a "right" and a "wrong" way to dress, and that transgressers can and should be punished, and secondly by normalizing the punishment. There is no legitimate reason for this.
Adolescent pregnancy diminishes the life opportunities of girls everywhere, but the cost goes beyond the burden borne by the girls themselves. And that is why it is our collective responsibility to address this problem.
It's time to make a radical shift, to start seeing girls not as vulnerable or as a liability, but as potential leaders. It's time to see girls for who they are: the driving force of their generation, one poised to bring real social change.
They are great in number, these girls; they belong to an exploding population of youth worldwide -- the largest in history. And these girls are bubbling with untapped potential that will continue to be squashed unless we put them at the center of global development efforts in the coming decade.
When a girl pursues a higher level of education, it can increase her wages and her ability to delay an early marriage. Migration can also expose girls to new ideas and norms and provide autonomy that would otherwise be inaccessible.
You see, we've always dreamed that one day, when we left our high school hallways, we'd be free of certain painful things like standardized tests, Chaucer, and...slut-shaming. You brought us back to a heartbreaking, frustrating reality.
In virtually every country in the world, there are disproportionate barriers for young people -- particularly young women -- when they seek contraception or access to information and commodities to practice safer sex. And this must stop.
Puberty typically isn't a favorite memory for any of us. During that angst-ridden ride between childhood and adulthood, nearly everyone's best goal is simply to fit in. That's even tougher when you're only in second grade.
Talk to them -- yes, both girls and boys -- about the enhanced images and videos that they will be exposed to. Tell them that pornography is like false advertising, the goal being to sell and market products, not necessarily to convey truth and honesty.