Press release: Girl Effect and Gavi join forces with US$ 10 million commitment to fight cervical cancer in developing world

Without intervention the rising number of deaths from cervical cancer will exceed maternal mortality rates in developing countries.
  • On International Day of the Girl Child, Girl Effect and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announce a US$10 million partnership to increase awareness and uptake of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine which protect girls against 70% of cervical cancer cases.
  • Negative social norms and cultural barriers can stop girls accessing the HPV vaccine, despite its effectiveness and availability.
  • The HPV vaccination is often the first time girls are in contact with health related activities since they were infants. This represents a unique opportunity to teach them about the benefits of other health interventions.
  • Gavi will support countries in purchasing the vaccines while Girl Effect’s culture brands will help address the negative social norms that hold girls back from getting vaccinated and accessing healthcare systems.

11 October, 2016 - As the world marks the fourth International Day of the Girl Child, Girl Effect and Gavi today announced a ground-breaking partnership to protect girls from contracting cervical cancer in developing countries.

The number of deaths from cervical cancer is on the rise and, without intervention, it is set to overtake maternal mortality in developing countries. Girl Effect and Gavi’s US$10 million joint investment will help address the negative social norms that prevent girls from accessing the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which provides protection against 70% of cervical cancer cases. The aim of the partnership is to ensure that more girls take up the vaccine in parts of the world where they are most at risk.

Cervical cancer claims the lives of more than 266,000 women each year, 85% of whom live in developing countries. It is the leading cause of cancer death for women in 40 out of 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Although the HPV vaccine is often available, it is not reaching many of the girls who need it most.

As part of this integrated partnership, Gavi will support countries in purchasing HPV vaccines, while Girl Effect will unlock demand by catalysing girls to demand immunisation against cervical cancer. Girl Effect will do this by leveraging its culture brands - brands rooted in local culture, and which reflect girls’ realities, their stories and the challenges they face every day. They work through integrating social and mass media - like radio shows and magazines - mobile apps, girl-driven insights and safe spaces, both virtual and analogue.

For example, Girl Effect’s brands like Ni Nymapinga in Rwanda and Yegna in Ethiopia, will include storylines and advice columns dispelling myths about the purpose of the vaccine. At the same time, its Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGAs) – trained girl-researchers using mobile technology to rapidly collect real-life insights – will help the partnership better understand the challenges facing girls and the impact the partnership is having on the ground.

Longer term, the Girl Effect-Gavi partnership has an even bigger ambition: to leverage the power of brands to create greater trust in health systems, encouraging more girls to use health services at critical times in their lives.

Farah Ramzan Golant, CEO of Girl Effect, said: “We want to create a ‘new normal’ for girls, where they’re visible, vocal and valued participants in society and actively supported by their communities. A world where they have the information and inspiration they need to seek out the services they need and deserve. In this unusual partnership with Gavi, we’re pioneering an integrated approach to tackle a complex development issue. Gavi will ensure life-saving vaccines are available, while Girl Effect will use the power of our brands, drawing from popular culture and harnessing new technology, to drive behaviour change at scale - ensuring girls are informed and empowered to actively take up these vaccines.”

“Cervical cancer is a scourge that kills women in the prime of their lives, depriving families of mothers, aunts, grandmothers and wives,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The HPV vaccine is a vital tool in the battle against cervical cancer, especially in countries where lack of access to screening and treatment is a major issue. Our partnership with Girl Effect is an opportunity to bring this vaccine to the attention of girls who are at risk of missing out on its lifesaving impact.”

Girl Effect’s US$5 million contribution will be matched by Gavi through the Matching Fund commitment of the Netherlands. In January 2015 the Dutch Government announced a €10 million contribution in support of immunisation through Gavi’s Matching Fund.

Watch this short animation illustrating the new partnership and why it matters:

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Notes to Editors

About Girl Effect

  • Girl Effect exists to create a new normal with and for girls
  • Girl Effect, was launched and championed as a movement by the NIKE Foundation in collaboration with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and multiple partners
  • In September 2015, Girl Effect became a new organisation focused on driving measurable change in girls' lives, with continued support from the NIKE Foundation and multiple partners
  • Girl Effect builds locally rooted girl-powered integrated culture brands that reframe the value of girls in society. The organisation powers a portfolio of regional brands and global platforms that include magazines, radio dramas, chat shows and digital content that attract, connect and empower girls and address the social norms that hold them back. Over time these brands help reframe the value of girls by changing the way millions of people think, feel and act towards them

About Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. Gavi uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of nearly 580 million children and the prevention of approximately 8 million future deaths. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is funded by governments (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the State of Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, Alwaleed Philanthropies, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), the Gulf Youth Alliance, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Majid Al Futtaim, Phillips, UPS and Vodafone.