Promoting sexual and reproductive health among youth

Young people are generally healthier than those in other age groups. However they are also exposed to certain risks that can have a negative impact on their immediate future and the rest of their lives. Youth in southern Africa are particularly severely affected by HIV/Aids, early pregnancies and a lack of freedom regarding their own sexuality.
Girl with blue school uniforms look concentrated at the camera over.
Pupils receive sex education to protect themselves from HIV and unwanted pregnancies. A class visit to the Bubi district, Zimbabwe.
Every year an estimated one million young people aged between 15 and 24 are infected with the HI virus. Internationally, young women account for over 60 percent of all young people with HIV; in sub-Saharan Africa this figure is 72 percent. Furthermore, sex-based violence is an all too common reality for many young people. According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 30 percent of all 15 to 19-year-old girls worldwide suffer violence at the hands of their sexual partners.
Poor or lacking sexual education
Violence against women and girls increases the risk of an unplanned early pregnancy, HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. In many countries, young people receive inadequate sexual education or none at all, have limited access to appropriate medical care and few opportunities to grow and develop before they have to assume adult roles. In many places gender norms require girls to marry and have children in their early to mid-teen years – an age at which they are neither physically nor psychologically ready to bear children.

Two women are balancing a tennis ball with a piece of cardboard in their hands. They throw the ball to each other with the cardboard.
Promoting a responsible approach to sexuality
terre des hommes schweiz and its local partner organisations in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe campaign strongly for young people, their health and their sexual rights. The concepts of sexual and reproductive health and rights were adopted in 1994 by the governments at the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo (United Nations Population Fund). They call for “young people’s needs for education and services be met, so that they can manage their sexuality in a positive and responsible way”.
Medical care that is appropriate for young people
In accordance with these concepts, terre des hommes schweiz facilitates access to comprehensive and youth-friendly medical care (contraception, information, advice), supports the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV and early pregnancies, and also promotes young people’s right to express their sexuality free from violence, discrimination and coercion.

Table of contents for health

Promoting sexual and reproductive health among youth (overview)
Young people are at particular risk: HIV/Aids, early pregnancy and the lack of a right to self-determined sexuality affect young people in southern Africa particularly hard.

Dealing with the disease and preventing infection
HIV/Aids continues to be particularly prevalent in southern Africa. In Tanzania alone, around 240,000 children are living with the HI virus. 1.5 million children aged 0 to 17 are Aids orphans.

Preventing early pregnancy and promoting the rights of young mothers
A drastic consequence of lack of knowledge and information about sex and sexuality are early pregnancies. Most pregnant girls drop out of school or are severely discriminated against in schools.

Combating gender inequality and domestic sexual abuse
The topics of sex, sexuality, femininity and masculinity are strongly influenced by taboos, myths, religious beliefs and cultural and traditional practices in countries in southern Africa. For example gender inequality and sexual and domestic violence are often considered normal and not questioned.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

2030 Agenda Goal 3.7

This part of the project work refers to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 3.7 of the 2030 Agenda (UNO).

The content of the goal:
"By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes."

Goal 5 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: gender equality

2030 Agenda Goals 5.3 and 5.6

This part of the project work refers to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 5.3 and 5.6 of the 2030 Agenda (UNO).

The content of the goal 5.3:
"Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation."

The content of the goal 5.6:
"Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences."

PSS Centre - Irene Busch

Irene Bush

Desk for Health

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