Our policy position on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

All children, adolescents and young people have the right to make their own free and informed choices and to have control over their sexual and reproductive health and lives, free from coercion, violence, discrimination and abuse.

Girls and young women, in particular, are denied the ability to exercise these rights. Fulfilling the rights of all children, adolescents and young people is fundamental to achieving gender equality.

SCOEN believes that all children, adolescents and young people have the right to make their own free and informed choices and to have control over their sexual and reproductive health and lives, free from coercion, violence, discrimination and abuse. Girls and young women, in particular, are denied the ability to exercise these rights. Fulfilling the rights of all children, adolescents and young people is fundamental to achieving gender equality.

Our SRHR position

This paper supports the new Global Strategy, in which SRHR is identified as a priority, and our work in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – in particular, Goals 3 and 5. A number of high-level recommendations are included to guide advocacy, however, a more specific advocacy framework will be developed.

For millions of young people around the world, the onset of adolescence brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing.

Millions of girls are coerced into unwanted sex or marriage, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and dangerous childbirth. Adolescent boys are at risk, as well. Young people – both boys and girls – are disproportionately affected by HIV.

However, gender inequality and discriminatory social norms mean that girls and young women often lack the voice, agency and autonomy to make their own decisions in relation to their sexual and reproductive health and are frequently denied access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services. This can leave them vulnerable and unable to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), as well as from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. It can also result in serious psychological harm.

Girls and young women are frequently subjected to serious human rights violations, including coerced sex, sexual violence and harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child, early and forced marriage.

Yet too many young people face barriers to reproductive health information and care. Even those able to find accurate information about their health and rights may be unable to access the services needed to protect their health.