Representatives from thirty countries at the 65th Assembly of the World Health Assembly (May 2012) noted in their contributions to the discussions on "Early marriages, adolescent and young pregnancies” that early marriage is illegal in most places where it occurs, that it is a violation of the rights of girls, and that it has detrimental health and social consequences on adolescent girls and their families and communities.
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.
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.
An estimated 16 million births occur to young women aged 15-19 years, and 1 million births occur to girls aged 10-14. For some of these girls and young women, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many others they are not.