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Giving all Girls a Shot at Life

2023 is the 11th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child, made to empower girls and recognize their rights. Despite being the future leaders of this world, girls continue to face rampant global health inequities. One such injustice is the ongoing battle against HPV.

Girl Child Day

“Women and girls can lead us to a fairer future… let us amplify girls’ voices, and recommit to working together to build a world where every girl can lead and thrive.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres  

2023 marks the 11th anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child, declared by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face. The world’s 600 million adolescent girls are the changemakers of our globe; they are changing stereotypes, breaking down barriers, and paving the way for growth.  

Despite being the future leaders of this world, adolescent girls continue to face rampant gender inequalities and are often underserved by humanitarian aid efforts. One such injustice is the ongoing battle against Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is a viral infection of the reproductive tract that can lead to cervical cancer but is preventable by vaccine. More than 95% of cervical cancer is caused by HPV, meaning that the safe, effective HPV vaccines already in existence could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of women. 

An estimated 300,000 women die of cervical cancer each year, concentrated primarily in low- and middle-income countries where there is limited access to screening, prevention, and treatment – all factors that compounded by a lack of sexual education (WHO). These mortality rates could be reduced if all women had the same access to vaccines and screening for cervical cancer, but girls and women in many societies are marginalized due to socioeconomic status, societal norms, and more. As such, deaths from cervical cancer are not only tragic, but also unveil unequal access to lifesaving healthcare and information.  

We have the tools to prevent cervical cancer through HPV vaccinations, but girls need access to vaccines and information about the risks of cervical cancer. Education is key to avoid misinformation, break down stigma, and make progress against this disease. In order to empower the girls of our world, we must first ensure they all have the foundational rights to health. 

To make your voice heard in the global fight for immunization and ensure that everyone has a shot at a healthy life, fill out this form to contact Congress today.  


Holly Pappano

Holly Pappano is the Communications Associate for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. Prior to this position, she was an intern for United to Beat Malaria, Shot@Life’s sister campaign. Holly previously interned with Kinesso of Interpublic Group, spent time in South Korea as a fellow and ESL teacher, worked as an ambassador for the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders, and more. She graduated from Miami University in May of 2023 as a triple-major in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Applied Linguistics, and Psychology, and has also studied at Xiamen University, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Seoul.

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