A Funder That Isn't Afraid on Adolescent Sexuality

When it comes to funding matters of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), it’s complicated. Organizations aiming to address this particular funding gap can come up against centuries-old customs, traditions, and cultural norms that work as roadblocks to SRHR services that many women may want, but can't access.

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And when you throw adolescent girls into the mix, it gets even more sticky. Which may explain why there's not a lot of funders who leap to mind that make a big push specifically on adolescent SRHR funding.

A relative newcomer to the field is the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and it has no qualms about funding adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs that may give other funders pause.

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In 2013, the foundation jumped in with a contraceptive implant volume guarantee with pharma giants Merck and Bayer. The multi-donor procurement agreement helped usher in a 50 percent price reduction for contraceptive implants, fostering a 632 percent usage increase by 2014. The original pledge was tagged at $36 million; however, CIFF does not expect the full amount to be dispersed. The foundation’s support of the guarantee is set to run from January 2013 to December 2018, and includes other participants such as the Gates Foundation and the Swedish International Development Corporation.

In 2014, CIFF jumped into SRHR funding in a big way with some pretty massive multi-year support grants: 

  • $1.37 million in funding was awarded the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women for the organizations’ work in multiple countries in gaining a better understanding of the economic impacts of child marriage. This support is set to run from 2014 to 2017.
  • $2 million in funding from 2014 to 2016 was awarded to PATH in support of a study in market and country readiness for the self-administering contraceptive Sayana Press.
  • $15 million in support was given to Pfizer, DKT International and other funders in 2014 for a Sayana Press scale-up effort that includes a subsidy to reduce the price of the contraceptive to around $1.00 per unit.
  • $25 million in support to GAVI for its HPV vaccination program for adolescent girls to prevent cervical cancer, which is currently the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for women in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • $13.5 million in support to partners including IPAS, Marie Stopes, UNFPA, and the Government of Kenya for their efforts in preventing teen pregnancy in Kenya through improving access to comprehensive high quality sexual and reproductive information and services. The support is currently set to run from 2015 to 2018.

The age ranges for adolescents include a couple of different spans. For example, the WHO defines this age group as people between the ages of 10 and 19, while the CDC throws 20-24 year olds into the mix as well, with the understanding that they may have “developmental and health needs similar to adolescents.” I suspect it’s the low end of that age bracket that may give other funders pause.

No matter how the age group is defined, the fact remains that the youth population has exploded in many countries, creating growing challenges in countries where girls and young women often have little or no access to sex education and family planning tools. CIFF is putting up some big money to change that.

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