Today's youth population is the largest in history: 1.8 billion individuals between the ages of 10 and 24, more than a billion of whom live in FP2020’s 69 focus countries.13
Many have an urgent need for contraceptive information and services, yet they are too often hindered by discrimination, stigma, poverty, and a lack of basic knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights. Reaching this age group with high-quality services that are tailored to their needs must be an essential priority for the entire family planning sector.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to meeting the needs of young people, because there is no one story that fully encapsulates their experiences. The life trajectories of young people differ enormously across countries—and even within countries—with considerable variation in the timing and sequence of key events: the age they first have sex, get married, and/or give birth (see graph). These distinctions highlight the importance of developing approaches that are context-specific, timely, and effective. Ultimately, countries must examine their policies and settings, develop a process of evaluation and reevaluation that genuinely reflects a youth perspective, and implement evidence-based programs that work.
FP2020 is contributing to these efforts in three main areas of activity:
- improving data on young people and encouraging the use of this data to inform strategic decision making;
- amplifying the voices of young people and supporting their inclusion in mainstream advocacy work in countries and within the FP2020 partnership and leadership structures; and
- cultivating the acceptance of evidence-based interventions for youth, including postpartum and post-abortion family planning and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).
LARCs include implants and IUDs, and are among the most well-supported evidence-based interventions for adolescents and young women. FP2020 serves as the site host for the Global Consensus Statement on Expanding Contraceptive Choice for Adolescents and Youth to Include Long-Acting Reversible Contraception, which is supported by 50 endorsing organizations. The statement was developed by Pathfinder International, its E2A project, PSI, MSI, and FHI 360 as a vehicle to generate awareness about the right of all young people to access a full range of contraceptive methods, including LARCs.
Read the Global Consensus Statement
Most FP2020 partner countries include a focus on youth in their national family planning strategies, and FP2020 is developing technical resources to assist countries in framing youth-friendly programs. The emphasis is on interventions with demonstrated effectiveness that can be incorporated within existing service delivery channels (see box).
WHAT WE CAN DO BETTER
Examine youth policies and settings, develop a process of evaluation and reevaluation that genuinely reflects a youth perspective, and implement evidence based programs that work.
To underscore FP2020’s commitment to fostering cross-generational policy dialogue, a new youth seat was created on the Reference Group, currently held by Margaret Bolaji of Nigeria. FP2020 is also working to bolster the participation of youth advocates and strengthen the connections between global, regional, and national youth networks. By uniting, they can share experiences, develop formal advocacy activities, and coalesce on how to move policies, plans, and promises to solid action that improves the lives of young people.
Adolescent-Friendly Contraceptive Services
The High Impact Practices (HIP) in Family Planning initiative identifies seven elements that have been shown to increase adolescent uptake of contraceptive services: 14
- Training and supporting providers to offer nonjudgmental services to adolescents
- Enforcing confidentiality and ensuring audio and visual privacy
- Offering a wide range of contraceptive methods
- Providing free or subsidized services
- Ensuring legal rights, policies, and guidelines that respect, protect, and fulfill adolescents’ rights to contraception, regardless of age, sex, marital status, or parity
- Fostering support among communities and parents for adolescents to access contraceptive information and services
- Addressing gender norms