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Girls and women
represent a majority of the world’s 700 million poorest people – defined as those living on less than $1.90 per day.

PHOTO CREDIT: Manprit Shergill

The path out of extreme poverty begins with health.

When girls and women are healthy, they are able to go to school, find a job, and spend most of their income on their families.


We consulted global experts, including PSI's technical teams, to identify six key health areas that offer the greatest return on investment for transforming the lives of girls and women in the developing world. Investing in these areas will help achieve several of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.


    225 million

    women in developing countries who want contraceptives do not have access to them.

    When women and adolescent girls have access to family planning, they have higher levels of education, their children are healthier, and their families are wealthier. Women are prevented from accessing contraceptives due to a lack of products, under-resourced public health systems, and lack of trained medical providers.

  • Non-Communicable Diseases

    38 million

    people die from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) every year, of which 18 million are women.

    NCDs - which include cancers, heart disease, and diabetes - represent the biggest threat to women’s health worldwide, increasingly impacting on women in developing countries in their most productive years. For example, women in developing countries account for 85% of all cases of cervical cancer globally. No longer diseases of the rich and elderly, NCDs affect the health of women and girls and also the health and life chances of their children.


    2.5 billion

    people do not have access to basic sanitation.

    Improved sanitation would make 1.25 billion women’s lives safer and healthier worldwide, and significantly reduce their risk of suffering violence. Many girls and women do not have access to a toilet that is safe, private, and prevents the spread of disease – putting them at risk of shame, disease, and attack during menstruation, pregnancy, and after childbirth. Every day, 2,000 children die from diarrheal diseases, almost all of which are preventable and stem from contaminated water, lack of sanitation, or inadequate hygiene.

  • Gender based violence

    1 in 3 women

    globally will experience physical or sexual violence.

    Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive global health and human rights problem that affects every society in the world, devastates lives, fractures communities, and impedes a country’s social and economic progress. In many parts of the world, over half the female population has experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of her partner, alongside equal numbers of women enduring relationships rife with psychological and emotional abuse. Gender inequality and negative gender norms remain the root cause of gender-based violence across the world, meaning true prevention of GBV will take the transformation of attitudes and broader community norms, as well as the engagement of key community leaders and organizations who can incite change.

  • Hiv

    2 in 3 young people

    living with HIV globally are women

    HIV/AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age globally, and almost 60% of all new HIV infections in young people occur among adolescent girls and young women. Many obstacles prevent adolescent girls from protecting themselves against HIV, including limited access to health care and education, gender‐based violence, and systems and policies that do not address their specific health and social needs.

  • Maternal and child health

    287,000 women

    die every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications – one every two minutes.

    Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 in developing countries (excluding China and Southeast Asia), and their babies are 50% less likely to survive than older mothers. For most adolescents, pregnancy is a result of an absence of choices, including a lack of access to family planning services and information, child marriage, gender inequality, poverty, or sexual violence.


PSI is a nonprofit that takes a business approach to saving lives.

PSI breaks with the traditional development model by using proven business practices like marketing and franchising, by helping build strong health systems in the private and public sector, by tapping into the expertise of 8,900 local staff in more than 65 countries around the world, and by measuring impact.


    Developing cutting-edge communications using traditional and emerging technologies to motivate people to adopt healthy behaviors.

    Getting the right products and services to girls and women is the first step to helping them live healthy lives; equally important is making sure they are in a supportive environment that encourages consistent and correct use. In global health and development, social and behavior change communications (SBCC) is the act of motivating people to adopt healthier behaviors, such as using a condom or washing their hands with soap. From television and radio to print and social media to one-on-one outreach in communities, PSI connects with people where they are in compelling and culturally appropriate ways.


    Using market analysis and consumer insights to make health products and services affordable, accessible and appealing.

    Better health is out of reach for the majority of the world’s poorest girls and women because health products and services are inaccessible – often due to unaffordable prices and limited distribution. PSI uses a human-centered approach to understand what motivates someone to adopt a health solution, and then we get the product or service to them in a way they understand, at a price they can afford and in a place that is convenient.


    Taking a page on franchising from the corporate playbook by establishing networks of branded health centers that bring affordable, reliable and high quality services to millions.

    Just like the franchising of restaurants or retail outlets, but for social good, PSI’s social franchises apply commercial franchising strategies to improve health in developing countries. When you mail a package at a UPS store – in Washington state or Washington, DC ­– you expect quality service and consistent pricing from a reliable shipper. PSI’s social franchises operate the same way for customers seeking affordable, reliable health services and products.


    Integrating all segments of the market to make health products and services work harder and smarter to meet the needs of girls and women where they live.

    Market development addresses the components of the market – from the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the local seller or supplier – to evaluate necessary changes to ensure girls and women can obtain and use the health products and services they need without suffering financial hardship. This "total market" approach keeps tabs on how markets are working or failing, also addressing the underlying causes of success of failure. Interventions that make markets work for girls and women need to be flexible, highly nuanced and catalytic.

What we’ve achieved to date


Mobilized $30 million in resources for girls and women


Helped more than 300,000 girls and women live healthier lives


Launched pilot projects in 13 countries