|Strong Resolution for Young People at 2012 CPD|
From April 23 to April 27, 2012, the United Nations held its 45th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) in New York on the theme of “Adolescents and Youth”. The International Women’s Health Coalition applauds the results, namely, international agreement on securing the rights of adolescent girls and boys to decide on matters relating to their sexuality and reproduction free of violence, coercion and discrimination, and to have the necessary information and health services to do so.
More than one-third of the world's population – 1.8 billion people -- is 19 years old or younger. Today's young people want the information, skills, and opportunities to grow up differently from their parents. It is our obligation to act now-to ensure that these new generations, and those to come, are guaranteed their right to a just and healthy life. This groundbreaking resolution, if implemented across the world, could mean that every teenager will know about his and her body and his and her rights to negotiate sexual relationships. It would also entail girls and boys being able to make decisions about if and when to marry, to access health services with privacy and confidentiality and without stigma and discrimination, and to obtain the information and supplies necessary to avoid unintended pregnancies and HIV infections, among others.
We live in a world where millions of girls and women are beaten and raped daily, and where over 3.2 million young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. Adolescent girls and young women in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East get “married off” at ages as early as 10 years old because they are considered the property of men and their worth in society is relegated to procreation and raising children. It is estimated that pregnancy and childbirth complications account for the death of 50,000 adolescent girls each year.
None of these tragedies have to happen. They all result from discrimination and other violations of women’s and girls’ human rights. They are preventable. We know what to do to protect human rights, ensure the health of women and girls, and save their lives. The CPD this year was a rare and crucial moment in which we had a global opportunity to talk “about young people, for young people and with young people” about what they need.