"I saw embarrassment on my mother’s face when I asked her questions regarding sexuality and relationships with boys," said Cecile Nshimirimana*, a student in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

Without information or services to protect herself from an unintended pregnancy, she ended up pregnant – over and over again.

"Some days, I think of how I could have avoided getting pregnant again and again, if only I had the information and the means necessary to protect myself.”

Girls who find themselves unmarried and pregnant are often compelled to drop out of school or marry early, even if underage. Or, if they are like Ms. Nshimirimana, they may resort to an unsafe abortion.

“I was afraid for my life when [on one occasion] it was dark and the doctor had only two candles to light [the room],” she recalled.

No woman or girl should risk her life in pursuit of her future.

“Gender equality is about unlocking the full potential of a country, but gender equality is also a human right,” Ine Eriksen Søreide, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday in a statement at the Human Rights Council.

All views are those of the original author. Originally published at