September 11, 2016
Written by Ann Starrs
This post originally appeared on Devex.
Today is International Youth Day. Thousands of young women and men around the world are gathering to celebrate this annual event, which serves to highlight the role they play in shaping global change.
Today is also an opportunity to draw attention to the challenges young people face and the ways the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious set of goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 that aim to end poverty and improve quality of life, seek to address some of those challenges. Achievement of the three goals that cover health, education and gender equality depends to a large extent on improving the lives and health, including the sexual and reproductive health, of adolescent women.
Some 38 million adolescent women aged 15-19 in developing regions are sexually active and want to avoid pregnancy; of those, 23 million have an unmet need for modern contraception. This means that even though these young women don’t want to have a child soon, they are not practicing contraception at all or they are using traditional methods, which are less effective than modern contraceptives.
All sexually active adolescent women should have access to safe and effective methods of contraception. However, many young women who want to avoid pregnancy are not receiving the services they need to protect their health and delay childbearing. This is especially true in the poorest countries and in the poorest communities within countries.