Sexual and reproductive health

The changing world of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights

Adolescents engaged in various activities to learn about health and social issues, Bangladesh

3 February 2020 The world in which adolescents live has changed dramatically in the last 25 years and the response to their sexual and reproductive health and rights has evolved in important ways. This new supplement in the Journal of Adolescent Health celebrates gains, confronts barriers, and identifies key areas of action for countries and key stakeholders to build on progress in the critical decade ahead.

International Day of the Girl Child

Young adolescent girls in Rajasthan, India
UNICEF/Soumi Das

11 October 2019: - Since 2012, the 11th of October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight the needs and problems of girls, and to call for efforts to meet their needs and fulfil their rights, in partnership with them. This year’s theme - GirlForce: Unscripted and unstoppable – celebrates the changes that are occurring in girls’ lives worldwide. Today, as we near the end of the second decade of the 21st century, more girls are joining and completing their schooling, fewer are getting married, and fewer are becoming mothers whilst they are still children. Increasingly, girls are informing and organizing themselves to find and implement solutions to the problems they face.

International Youth Day 2019

School girls to receive HPV vaccine in Brazil

12 August 2019 | The theme of International Youth Day 2019 is "Transforming Education", highlighting the need to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all young people. Education is essential to prepare children and young people for their lives. It is also pivotal to good health, gender equality, peace and security.

Working to safeguard the health, well-being and human rights of adolescents with WHO guidelines

A group of adolescent girls, Brazil
UN Women/Gustavo Stephan


11 October 2018: On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, WHO has launched a compilation of all its current guideline recommendations on the evidence-based actions that can be used to address the principal sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting adolescents.

Young people need good-quality comprehensive sexuality education

Image of guideline front cover

10 January 2018 | The fully revised UN International technical guidance on sexuality education advocates for quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to promote health and well-being, respect for human rights and gender equality, and empowers children and young people to lead healthy, safe and productive lives.

Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Image of the guide front cover
Photo: UNICEF/Asselin

19 October 2017: For the first time, WHO has published guidelines to help (primarily) front-line healthcare providers give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents (up to age 18) who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.

Gender inequality in early adolescence must be addressed for health and well-being throughout life

Group of adolescents in Bangladesh.
Ricci Coughlan/DFID

20 September 2017: When children move into early adolescence, they begin to take on new gender roles associated with femininity and masculinity, often reinforcing socially and culturally conventional gender norms related with being women or men. These gender roles have an impact upon the decisions that young people in early adolescence make, and therefore upon their health and well-being. They have an impact on the choices young adolescents make in relation to sexual and inter-personal relationships, which can have an effect on their health and well-being throughout the rest of their lives.

Engaging with youth for the promotion of peace

12 August 2017: This year's International Youth Day takes the theme of “Youth Building Peace”.
Today’s generation of youth (defined by the UN as persons aged 18 through 29) is the largest the world has ever known and as such will have a major role in shaping the world of tomorrow. To this end, youth need to be actively engaged and invited to participate in the design and development of research and programmes that affect them. This was recognised by the UN Security Council in its 2015 resolution urging Member States to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. Whilst the resolution focused primarily on global security, it is equally relevant for health.

fact buffet

Adolescent pregnancy

777,000at least 777,000 girls under 15 give birth every year—most in low- and middle-income countries.

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Unsafe abortions

3.9 millionEvery year, some 3.9 million girls aged 15 to 19 undergo unsafe abortions.

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Child marriages

39 000Child marriages: 39 000 every day. More than 140 million girls will marry between 2011 and 2020

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Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) instruments

The Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) Questionnaire and Training Suite

The ages 10 to 14 are among the most critical for human development, yet one of the most poorly understood stages of the life course. While biological processes are universal, the social contexts within which they occur vary considerably. The Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS) aims to understand the factors in early adolescence that predispose young people to subsequent sexual health risks and promote healthy sexuality in diverse contexts, so as to provide the information needed to promote sexual and reproductive well-being. In some sites, it includes an intervention to assess impact.

Asking young people about sexual and reproductive behaviours

These instruments are intended to be no more than a starting point for investigators wishing to study the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Authors caution that these instruments should always be adapted to local circumstances and research priorities and, wherever possible, be used in conjunction with each other.

Test your knowledge on adolescent sexual and reproductive health

Adolescent health and the importance of sexuality education

TEDx Talks

Why we shouldn’t shy away from sexual education
Dr V. Chandra-Mouli, WHO/HRP

11th World Congress on Adolescent Health

Dr. V. Chandra-Mouli from WHO talks about the need for, & right to Sexuality Education for Adolescents. October 2017