Why Must the Post-2015 Agenda Address Youth SRHR?

At the 1994 ICPD in Cairo, governments worldwide recognized adolescents and young people as rights holders entitled to sexual and reproductive health services.[1]

20 years on, however, realities on the ground demonstrate that young people continue to face significant barriers in terms of their SRHR, particularly in the Global South. In 2009, young people aged 15-24 accounted for 41% of new HIV infections worldwide,[2] with young women making up 64% of all new infections among young people.[3]  Moreover, exorbitantly high numbers of unmarried, sexually active adolescents have an unmet need for modern contraception, where 68% have an unmet need in Sub-Saharan Africa, 54% in South Central Asia, and 46% in Latin America and the Caribbean.[4]

The SRHR needs of adolescent girls in particular are ignored in many developing countries.[4]  When trying to access sexual and reproductive health services they are all too often turned away, humiliated, or ostracized; subjected to emotional or physical abuse; or denied their right to health and bodily autonomy as a result of parental consent limitations.

That young people continue to face shame, discrimination, judgmental attitudes and other barriers when exerting their human right to SRH information and services is completely unacceptable, and must be addressed in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

As such, this May 28 we call on governments to commit to a Post-2015 Agenda that recognizes the SRHR of young people, ensuring universal access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services, as well as comprehensive sexuality education that is gender sensitive, non-discriminatory and life-skills based, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacity of adolescents and young people.



[1] See the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action, para. 7.45: “[…]Countries must ensure that the programmes and  attitudes of health-care providers do not restrict the access of  adolescents to appropriate services and the information they need,  including on sexually transmitted diseases and sexual abuse. […] These services must safeguard the rights of adolescents to privacy, confidentiality, respect and informed consent, respecting cultural values and religious beliefs. In this context, countries should, where appropriate, remove legal, regulatory and social barriers to reproductive health information and care for adolescents.”

[2] ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report (2014), p. 112, retrieved 15 May 2014.

[3] UNFPA (2012), “From Childhood to Womanhood: Meeting the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Adolescent Girls,” retrieved 6 May 2014.

[4] Guttmacher Institute and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), “Facts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescent Women in the Developing World,” retrieved 20 May 2014.