Every year in developing regions, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15-19 become pregnant, and complications during pregnancy/childbirth are the leading cause of death for this age group globally. Almost 4 million girls aged 15-19 undergo unsafe abortions and 12 million girls under age 18 are married annually. About 20% of girls around the world experience sexual abuse.
Provision of information and education, including sexuality education, is an important intervention to promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights. This session aims to unpack this idea further. Representatives from Rutgers, UNESCO, Polish Doctors for Women, Women Deliver and World YWCA will debate the motion: “Provision of information and education is sufficient to enable adolescents to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive lives.”
- An efficient comprehensive sexual education (CSE) must be based on science.
- Education and information are necessary, but they are insufficient on their own.
- Creating an enabling environment and a meaningful engagement by young people are vital.
- Building bridges between the education and health sectors is essential for teenagers.
Every year in developing regions, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 become pregnant. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for this age group globally. Almost 4 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions, and 12 million girls of under 18 years get married. About 20 % of girls around the world experience sexual abuse.
These sobering statistics about adolescent health are often swept under the carpet, which explains why life is difficult for so many girls around the world and why it is so important to find a collective way forward.
These girls and young women need access to education and information to help them make informed decisions to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV, unintended pregnancies, and child marriages. School is an effective way of reaching youngsters, and the international community has made various commitments to invest more in education and to provide comprehensive sexual education (CSE).
A global UNICEF study showed that 40 % of girls around the world think it is all right for their partner to hit them if they do not want to have sex. This perception is higher than among adult women. Much also needs to be done for young people with disabilities, who tend to be considered as asexual. The ideal CSE should also not be disease-focused, and should include pleasure and living to the full and not be restricted to avoiding disease and pregnancy. All of this will take time.