New State of World Population 2013 Report spotlighting high rates of teenage pregnancies

November 4, 2013

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) released a new report, the State of World Population 2013 ‘Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy’. It spotlights the high rates of teenage pregnancies in developing countries – 7.3 million every year – and calls on Governments to help girls achieve their full potential through education and adequate health services.

The challenge of adolescent pregnancy

Every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls below age 18 give birth. Most of the world's births to adolescents – 95 percent –occur in developing countries, and nine in 10 of these births occur within marriage or a union. The State of World Population 2013 notes that out of the 7.3 million births, 2 million are to girls who are 14 or younger. This has serious consequences on the health (including the risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV), education, employment and rights of an untold millions of girls.

"Too often, society blames only the girl for getting pregnant," said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin. "The reality is that adolescent pregnancy is most often not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather the absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girl's control. It is a consequence of little or no access to school, employment, quality information and health care." 

A comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health

The report seeks to offer a new perspective on teenage pregnancy, looking not only at girls' behaviour as a cause of early pregnancy, but also at the actions of their families, communities and Governments. In addition to funding, it stresses that countries must adopt a holistic approach which does not dwell only on changing girls' behaviour, but rather on changing the attitudes and actions in the society she lives in. This includes:

• Keeping girls in school
• Stopping child marriage
• Changing attitudes about gender roles and gender equality
• Increasing adolescents' access to sexual and reproductive health
• Providing better support to adolescent mothers 

Linking HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights

STOP AIDS NOW! recognizes the barriers that young people, and young women in particular, face to realize their right to sexual and reproductive health. We are happy to see such a strong argument for quality sexuality education and access to services for youth.

In our work, we aim to improve the quality of HIV prevention programmes and sexuality education for youth as well as increased access to youth friendly services. We aim to improve the quality of services related to reproductive, maternal and newborn health. Also, we work to strengthen the coordination of support given to young people living with HIV. See our website for more information about our work on HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

For the full report, click here.