Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy

According to The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 2013 State of the World Population report, 20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth every day. Of these births, 95 per cent occur among adolescents in developing countries. Annually, an estimated 70,000 adolescents die from complications from pregnancy and childbirth.

The report, aimed to help people and organizations understand the scope and impact of the issue as well as to understand what we can do to ensure that girls have a healthy and safe transition to adulthood.

Read the full report, here.

The Way Forward…

The way forward, the report says, is via a “new way of thinking”. According to the report, most programs to address adolescent pregnancy have historically aimed to change the behavior of the girl. While programs aimed at empowering girls to understand their rights, access birth control and get an education are helpful, they don’t address the underlying issues of adolescent pregnancy, issues like gender inequality, poverty, sexual violence and coercion, stereotypes, child marriage and the role of boys and men. The report goes on to say that governments, communities, schools, and families must see these underlying issues as the real challenges to addressing adolescent pregnancy.

The report then details eight ways to get us there. An all-encompassing solution will include:

1. Providing preventative measures for young girls (age 10-14), 2. Stopping child marriage, 3. Keeping girls on healthy and safe trajectories, 4. Protecting human rights, 5. Getting girls in school and enabling them to stay, 6. Involving men and boys to be part of the solution, 7. Expanding sexuality education and access to services, and 8. Building a post-MDG framework based on human rights, equality and stability.

GOJoven’s Work to Face the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy

The State of the World Population report points to the importance of youth having access to age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education and for investing in services to allow adolescents and young people to access contraceptives and information about their use.

Since 2004, GOJoven has worked to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive rights programs, policies, services and outcomes, including reducing adolescent pregnancy, in the Mesoamerican region through a yearlong youth leadership training which incorporates modules on sexual and reproductive health, program planning and leadership.

Since its inception, GOJoven has trained more than 170 youth leaders, male and female, and 400 local organizations and government institutions in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Quintana Roo, Mexico to improve SRHR. Youth leaders have been selected based on their commitment to advancing the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Once trained, GOJoven alumni have taken their leadership skills and knowledge and understanding of issues like family planning, sexually transmitted infections (STI), gender and sexuality, emergency contraception and sexual and reproductive health out into their communities through sexual education trainings and policy and advocacy work at the local, state and national levels. Some graduates have even opened their own youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information centers, and others have created their own youth-led NGOs.

In the current phase of GOJoven, graduates from each country are developing a strategic plan and an independent organizational structure, mobilizing youth and organizations to create better youth and adolescent SRHR policies, services, programs and resources. Together with local, regional, and international organizations, GOJoven will contribute to the healthy and productive lives of youth and adolescents in the region.

Thank you to the United Nations Population Fund for the release of the 2013 State of the World Population report. We’re excited for GOJoven to be part of the solution to address the challenge of adolescent pregnancy. If you would like to support the work of our alumni, please Like us on Facebook or make a contribution.

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