Envisioning a world in which youth are at the center of their reproductive lives

Kelly L’EngleImagine the potential if each one of the 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries could have full control over her reproductive life. She would be able to stay in school, delay marriage, postpone pregnancy, and support herself and her community. Yet, approximately 16 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year and one-third of girls give birth before their 20th birthday.

To advocate for young people’s access to safe, reliable contraceptive information and services, FHI 360 co-hosted a meeting today on youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCS). With participants including the LARC and Permanent Methods Community of Practice Secretariat, Population Services International, Marie Stopes International and Pathfinder, the meeting highlighted the range of highly effective contraception methods available and provided a platform for tackling tough questions about how to effectively promote LARCs for youth.

With more than 40 years of achievements in providing access to high-quality reproductive health information and services for a range of populations, FHI 360 is committed to enabling young women to make informed choices about their reproductive health.

Through youth-focused project design and communication campaigns, such as m4rh, that encourage a supportive environment for adolescents’ use of modern contraceptives, FHI 360 seeks to empower adolescent girls and women. Joy Cunningham, Technical Advisor at FHI 360, explains, “Not only do young women and their communities need to be front and center in designing and implementing solutions, we also must ensure they are provided with comprehensive options and effective choices.”

The question then becomes, what happens when girls are empowered to make decisions about their reproductive lives? Thought leaders across the public health community are providing inspiring answers. What do you think?

Here’s what we’ve heard so far on Twitter:

5 Responses

5 Responses to “Envisioning a world in which youth are at the center of their reproductive lives”

  1. Angela on

    When girls are empowered to make decisions about their reproductive health it shifts the entire trajectory of their lives. Having a child changes everything and even more so when you are a child yourself. Ownership of you reproductive options opens opportunities that would be inaccessible otherwise and is truly a game changer. A young woman able to grow, learn, and explore before bearing children leads to a mother that does all she can to foster the same opportunities for her daughters. We are in a position to commence a cycle of growth and it starts with a choice.

  2. Ellie on

    Women who own their reproductive choices start to question other ways in which gender discriminatory norms rob them of their rightful power to make other types of choices. This opens the door for these women to push back against discriminatory gender norms on a larger scale, own more of their decisions, and gain a greater sense of agency in mind and in practice.

  3. Trinity Zan on

    Empowering young girls means just that–allowing them to have a CHOICE. We discussed this during the meeting Kelly references yesterday and many participants believed that the ideal scenario would be to level the playing field, so to speak, so that all girls and young women could make the decision that is best for them–about when to have children, about what method of contraception to use until they do want to have children, even about how to manage menstruation (and today is Menstrual Hygiene Day!).

    With empowered girls, I think the possibilities are endless!

  4. Kate on

    When girls are empowered to make decisions about their reproductive lives, they are not only able to choose if and when they have children, but are also better able to make decisions about all aspects of their lives. Reproductive freedom can open a world of limitless opportunities for girls around the world.

  5. Cara Craig on

    Having pregnancies and children when they’re wanted/welcomed makes a world of difference in many lives, especially the mothers’; I’m grateful caring, smart people are helping to make this a reality for millions of people globally! Thank you!