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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2004: Adolescents and Young People
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Adolescents and Young People

Implementing the ICPD Consensus
Second Generation of Programmes
UNFPA Global Survey Findings
Role of NGOs
Key Health and Development Concerns
Meeting Young People’s Needs
Promoting Healthier Behaviour
Youth-friendly Services
Legal Progress
Key Challenges

Key Challenges

SCALING UP. Worldwide, a large number of good programmes have been started since the ICPD to address adolescent reproductive health concerns, but most operate on a relatively small scale. A major challenge is to secure the resources and commitment needed to scale up these programmes.

One organization that has had success in this regard is Action Health Incorporated in Nigeria, whose experiences have helped shape a national reproductive health education programme.(26) Government initiatives are also under way.

Following the ICPD, Mozambique made a commitment to investing in youth. It adopted a multisectoral National Youth Policy that involves different government ministries, NGOs and community organizations in an effort to increase youth participation in policy development and to improve their reproductive health. Designed and developed by youth, the national project, Geração Biz, promotes behaviour change and serves a spectrum of adolescent populations, including students and out-of-school youth.

PARTICIPATION AND PARTNERSHIP. Youth participation needs to be institutionalized in programme and policy development processes, and youth must be empowered by these processes. An initiative developed by UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA, Meeting the Development and Participation Rights of Adolescent Girls, strives to put adolescence at the forefront of the development agenda through youth participation in the policy process.

Nicaragua, with the help of UNFPA and UNICEF, has developed and implemented a national youth policy that integrates reproductive health in a broader framework of citizenship, peer education and political participation. Following a nationwide consultation with adolescents, the Government explicitly integrated the reproductive health needs of adolescents into its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the first country in the world to do so.(27)

With support from Finland, UNFPA is in the process of establishing a youth advisory panel to ensure that its policies integrate young people and address their needs, concerns and aspirations. The panel will include members from both developed and developing countries and will focus on three topics initially: HIV/AIDS, the needs of married adolescents, and the role of culture in adolescent reproductive health.(28)


In Bangladesh, more than half of all girls marry and begin child-bearing by age 20. UNFPA and UNICEF have teamed together to assist both unmarried adolescents in delaying marriage and married adolescents in knowing their rights. UNICEF’s intervention, Kishori Abjijan, encourages adolescent leadership and role models and works in partnership with the Government and NGOs (the Population Council, BRAC and the Centre for Mass Education in Science). Girls are active partners and participate in non-traditional livelihood skills programmes such as journalism and photography to enhance their confidence and visibility in the community. UNFPA is supporting efforts to heighten adolescents’ awareness about reproductive health rights. Both projects focus on empowering adolescents but they also are helping the Government, families, and communities support the girls’ development. See Sources

STRATEGIC APPROACHES. A recent evaluation of UNFPA’s and IPPF’s contributions to advancing adolescents’ health and rights in six programme countries found that more attention to policies, processes and to the strategic use of rights-based and gendersensitive approaches to programming would have made initiatives undertaken to date more effective.(29) Few efforts are reaching marginalized groups of youth effectively, and more work is needed to make quality reproductive health services available and accessible to young people in general. Findings from the evaluation, which was funded by a number of bilateral donors, will be used in UNFPA’s work on behalf of the world’s young people in coming years.

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