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.
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.
1 in 4
Adolescent girls aged 15-19 has an unmet need for contraception.
Girls under the age of 18 give birth each year.
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.
ACERWC recommends Tanzania reform policies that barred pregnant girls from school.
A landmark ruling sets standards to protect adolescents from sexual violence in schools and ensure access to sexuality education.
Case involved an adolescent girl who was sexually assaulted and died from complications of an unsafe abortion.
Publications and More
New Program in Africa to Improve Adolescents’ Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care and Rights
“SHE SOARS” project is expected to reach more than 200,000 out-of-school girls in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia. Read more.
Victory for Children’s Rights: Philippines Criminalizes Child Marriage
Law supported by the Center adds serious penalties to combat the harmful practice and the grave harms it causes. Read more.
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
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
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
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
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
A report documenting the forced pregnancy testing and expulsion of pregnant schoolgirls in mainland Tanzania. Read more.