Sexual and reproductive health

Research and action needed for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights

Girl kissing boyfriend on cheek, Ukraine
WHO/Hauranitai Shulika

GENEVA 18 December 2014 - There is growing recognition of the importance of addressing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents and young people. According to a WHO-led Special Supplement in the Journal of Adolescent Health – published online today – which marks the twentieth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, efforts must be intensified to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents (10-19 years) and young people (10-24 years) are met and their rights fulfilled.

Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence

Three girls pose in a classroom in a village near Jodhpur, India.
Rose Reis/Photoshare

11 October is the UN International Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme is “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence”. Adolescence is a critical period that can determine the trajectory of girls’ lives. It is a stage at which key investments and support can set girls on a path towards empowerment, or when discrimination, recurrent constraints, harmful practices, and violence can send them down a negative spiral with lifelong consequences, not just for themselves, but for societies and future generations.

Very young adolescents

Women and young adolescents, India
Curt Carnemark / World Bank
Women and young adolescents, India

While physical, psychological and social development extends from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, there is growing recognition that early adolescence (10-14 years) is an especially crucial phase. There is also widespread recognition that early adolescence has been/is being neglected both in research and in action.

Overcoming barriers to adolescent health education and health services

Adolescents work in small groups during a workshop on reproductive health, Bangladesh.
BCCP/Photoshare
Adolescents work in small groups during a workshop on reproductive health, Bangladesh.

When national Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health strategies are not implemented effectively, adolescents and young people are unable to obtain the sexuality and reproductive health education they need in their schools and communities, and sexual and reproductive health services they need from health facilities in their communities. The result is unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STIs including HIV infection.

Adolescents

Strategic areas of work

Related links

Sample core instruments

These instruments are intended to be no more than a starting point for investigators wishing to study the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Authors caution that these instruments should always be adapted to local circumstances and research priorities and, wherever possible, be used in conjunction with each other.

Joining forces to prevent early marriage

Video

Key note address delivered by Dr Marleen Temmerman Viewing Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Very Young Adolescents through a Wide Angle Lens.

WHO Media Centre