The latest issue of Reproductive Health Journal includes an article on the health and development needs of young people as highlighted at the Women Deliver 2013 conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The sixteen co-authors—Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli (WHO), Rena Greifinger (Population Services International), Adaeze Nwosu (University of North Carolina), Gwyn Hainsworth (Pathfinder), Lakshmi Sundaram (Girls Not Brides), Sheena Hadi (WHO), Fran McConville (WHO), Regina Benevides (Evidence 2 Action Project), Archana Patkar (Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council), Eva Schoening (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), Amy Boldosser-Boesch (Family Care International), Prateek Aswathi (UNFPA), Arvind Mathur (WHO) and Doortje Braeken (IPPF)—put together key themes which emerged at the conference and developed solutions to improving the health and well-being of youth worldwide.
The key themes identified are as follows:
Investing in adolescents and young people is crucial for ensuring health, creating prosperity and fulfilling human rights.
- Gender inequality contributes to many health and social problems. Adolescent girls and boys, and their families and communities, should be challenged and supported to change inequitable gender norms.
- Child marriage utterly disempowers girls. It is one of the most devastating manifestations of gender discrimination.
- Negative social and cultural attitudes towards menstruation constrain the lives of millions of girls. This may well establish the foundation for lifelongdiscomfort felt by girls about their bodies and reticence in seeking help when problems arise.
Adolescents need comprehensive, accurate and developmentally appropriate sexuality education. This will provide the bedrock for attitude formation and decision making.
Adolescent-centered health services can prevent sexual and reproductive health problems and detect and treat them if and when they occur.
National governments have the authority and the responsibility to address social and cultural barriers to the provision of sexual and reproductive health education and services for adolescents and young people.
Adolescents should be involved more meaningfully in national and local actions intended to meet their needs and respond to their problems.
- The time to act is now. We know more now than ever before about the health and development needs of adolescents and young people, as well as the solutions to meeting those needs.
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