The Context: Young People Worldwide
|Secondary school girls in Benin City, Nigeria at an after-school session on health and body image led by IWHC colleague Girls' Power Initiative.
Working with young people to shape the policies and programs that affect them has never been more important than it is today. Currently, one-third of the world's population is under the age of 24, the largest generation of young people in history. About 16 million adolescent girls aged 15-19 give birth each year. In low and middle-income countries, complications from childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls in that age group. While good adolescent health policies often exist on paper, access to youth-friendly services and accurate information remains woefully inadequate, especially for the most vulnerable adolescents, such as younger girls.
Thirty-four percent of new HIV infections occur in young men and women aged 15 to 24. Over the next decade, more than 100 million girls will be married while they are still children. More than 4 million 15- to 19-year-old girls seek abortions every year, 40 percent under unsafe conditions. IWHC is working with local organizations to ensure that vulnerable youth, including married and unmarried adolescent girls, can access the information and services they need to protect their health.
Our Partners: Making Youth Health and Rights A Reality
IWHC has played an essential role in supporting the development and cutting-edge work of organizations and networks focused on addressing young people's health needs and human rights, many of them founded and managed by young people themselves. These partners include now-prominent organizations such as Action Health Incorporated and Girls' Power Initiative in Nigeria; Aahung in Pakistan; Mujer y Salud en Uruguay (MYSU); Reprolatina and SOS Corpo in Brazil; SANGRAM and The YP Foundation (TYPF) in India; Femmes-Sante-Developpement (FESADE) in Cameroun; and Women for Women's Human Rights in Turkey; among others.
- In Brazil, IWHC has supported three partner organizations working on comprehensive sexuality education: Comunicação em Sexualidade (ECOS), which has created a successful advocacy alliance for CSE policies in the Brazilian education sector; ReproLatina, whose website Living Adolescence reaches more than 60,000 young people a month with information on sexuality and reproductive health; and Curumim, which developed a model CSE program for several state and city governments.
- In Cameroun, IWHC's partner APAD (Association pour l'Autonomie et les Droits de la Fille/Femme), a youth-led organization whose membership and leadership consists of survivors of early and forced marriage, is spearheading efforts in the Extreme North region to prevent child marriage and support married girls. APAD educates girls and communities about their human rights, including the right to choose whom and when to marry, and provides literacy and skills-building programs to empower survivors of early and forced marriage to be economically independent and lead autonomous lives.
- In Nigeria, IWHC has provided long-time support to Girls' Power Initiative, Action Health Incorporated, and Adolescent Health and Information Projects. It is currently documenting the work of these three organizations in developing comprehensive sexuality education programs to serve as a model for other countries and regions.
- In Pakistan, IWHC supports Aahung for its work to integrate comprehensive and age-appropriate adolescent sexual and reproductive health information into the teaching programs of primary and secondary schools in Sindh province. To date, more than 200 private and government schools and four networks of charter schools have been introduced to its Life Skills Based Education Program. IWHC also supports Aahung's efforts to integrate sexual and reproductive health education into the teaching programs of public and private medical schools in order to improve health care providers' capacity and commitment to providing reproductive health services and information to adolescents and young people.
- In Peru, IWHC supported the Institute of Education and Health (IES) to develop accountability mechanisms to ensure the implementation of government guidelines on comprehensive sexuality education. IES also works with adolescent boys and girls to help them design their own community initiatives on sexuality, health, and rights.
- Globally, IWHC is creating opportunities for young people to network with each other and become stronger advocates. IWHC's Advocacy in Practice program brings together young people (ages 18-24) from diverse backgrounds for a series of workshops aimed to increase their advocacy skills and elevate their voices on sexual and reproductive rights and health.
Watch a video about Advocacy in Practice below: