Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

The Center for Reproductive Rights works around the world to guarantee adolescents the full exercise of their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including their rights to make informed decisions about their sexuality and reproduction and to access sexual and reproductive health services.

Summary

Adolescents and youth face significant barriers that undermine their sexual and reproductive health and rights—including lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education and to essential sexual and reproductive health services. Because of failures to enable and empower adolescents to access comprehensive reproductive health care—including contraception, abortion and maternal health care—one in four adolescents has an unmet need for contraception and seven million adolescents give birth each year. In addition, early pregnancy and childbearing pose unique risks to adolescents’ health and well-being.

Enabling girls to make informed and autonomous decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health is critical for fulfilling their human rights and ensuring access to education, economic opportunities, social empowerment, and financial independence.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has been on the forefront of spearheading litigation to affirm girls’ autonomy, decision-making and access to sexual and reproductive rights and health services, securing legal victories in national and regional courts and accountability bodies. We work to strengthen laws, policies and practices that ensure human rights of girls and adolescents are respected, protected and fulfilled within global arenas and at the regional, national, and community level, and to seek justice when their rights are violated.

Key Facts

1 in 4

Adolescent girls aged 15-19 has an unmet need for contraception.

7 million

Girls under the age of 18 give birth each year.

70,000

Girls die each year from pregnancy or childbirth complications, making it the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 worldwide.

Cases and work

Explore highlights of our work on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.

A landmark ruling sets standards to protect adolescents from sexual violence in schools and ensure access to sexuality education.

A case challenging the discriminatory school policy of forced pregnancy testing and expulsion of pregnant and married girls.

In a case involving an adolescent, Kenya’s High Court reaffirms constitutional protections for legal abortions.

Publications and More

Youth Reproductive Rights and the COVID-19 Response card link

Youth Reproductive Rights and the COVID-19 Response

This fact sheet discusses how COVID-19 has further imperiled youth’s ability to access reproductive care and what governments should do to address the situation. Read more.

Report: Unsafe Abortions Increasing in Kenya Despite Constitutional Protections card link

Report: Unsafe Abortions Increasing in Kenya Despite Constitutional Protections

This report examines the rising trend of women seeking unsafe abortions in Kenya, due to ineffective implementation and application of constitutional protections and abortion stigma in the criminal justice system. Read more.

"They Are Girls" - Justice and Redress for Girls in Latin America card link

“They Are Girls” – Justice and Redress for Girls in Latin America

Fighting against sexual violence against girls and adolescents and working to ensure girls are not forced into unwanted pregnancies and forced motherhoods. Read more.

Ending Impunity for Child Marriage in India: Normative and Implementation Gaps card link

Ending Impunity for Child Marriage in India: Normative and Implementation Gaps

This publication presents an overview of child marriage in India and the legal and policy barriers that perpetuate it.

Criminalizing Adolescence: A Call to Reform Kenya’s Sexual Offences Act card link

Criminalizing Adolescence: A Call to Reform Kenya’s Sexual Offences Act

In Kenya, adolescents involved in noncoercive and nonexploitative sex are exposed to a threat of criminal sanctions under the Kenya Sexual Offense Act, creating barriers for achieving equitable adolescent SRHR outcomes. Read more.

Forced Out: Mandatory Pregnancy Testing and the Expulsion of Pregnant Students in Tanzanian Schools card link

Forced Out: Mandatory Pregnancy Testing and the Expulsion of Pregnant Students in Tanzanian Schools

A report documenting the forced pregnancy testing and expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls in mainland Tanzania. Read more.

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