By: Felogene Anumo, Advocacy Programme Associate. The African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), @Felogene on Twitter
The Millennium Development Goals have been the central reference point for global development efforts and have had success in drawing attention to poverty as an urgent global priority. Though the world has made progress towards achieving the MDGs, more can and must be done, especially with regards to addressing the needs of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young women and girls.
The importance of adolescents’ access to SRHR is a key element to the fight against poverty.
About 1.8 billion young people are entering their reproductive years, often without the knowledge, skills and services they need to protect themselves. Among the root causes of current high rates of maternal and newborn mortality are unintended pregnancies — particularly among girls and adolescents. According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 800 women die every day in the process of giving life due to preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these mothers are young girls who have consistently had their rights and dignity violated.
Despite these glaring facts and the harsh reality, most young people still lack the information and resources necessary to make healthy choices, including protection against HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the development of healthy relationships. The health and social-economic consequences of teenage pregnancy are enormous. Early parenthood is likely to affect educational achievements with significant employment and socio-economic ramifications, while health complications for both teen mother and her unborn child or infant child are very high.
As young women and girls at the 2014 PMNCH Partners’ Forum we recognise that healthy populations, particularly women, children and young people are at the centre of sustainable development and that increasingly, evidence shows that healthy well-being in adolescence shapes the entire life course of individuals.
We therefore, call on all members attending the PMNCH Partners’ forum to within their efforts, reflect the following youth and adolescent priorities in the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
- Fulfill the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people by ensuring continuing age-appropriate sexuality education, comprehensive access to contraception and safe and legal abortion services by eliminating le legal, social and economic barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing their sexual and reproductive health;
- Commit to end all forms of violence and particularly to eliminate harmful and unethical practices affecting young women and girls including forced child marriage, girl pledging and female genital cutting;
- Increase investments in social, political and environmental determinants of young people’s health these include secondary education, youth unemployment, nutrition security, social exclusion, including income inequality, sexual diversity and gender equality.
- Allow for meaningful youth engagement not only the designing but also the implementation of health programs and policies aimed at improving health outcomes
Watch Felogene read the recommendations from the Youth Pre-Forum Outcome Document
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