Why Adolescent Girls – Women Deliver

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Why Adolescent Girls

Women Deliver’s mission is to ensure that every girl and every woman has full control over her body and her life. We focus on securing and advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of girls during adolescence, a critical period that shapes their futures, including their SRHR as adults.

Our definition of an adolescent girl

Women Deliver defines adolescence as the period when girls — including anyone who has lived experience as a girl or identifies as a girl — begin to be sexualized by their communities and societies. While the age at which this occurs can vary across different cultural contexts, Women Deliver defines adolescence as spanning ages 10-24. This range encompasses the onset of adolescence in most contexts, as well as later transitions to adulthood.

The Importance of Adolescence

Adolescence is a pivotal time where crucial decisions about bodily autonomy are made. If these decisions are influenced or made by others, a girl’s future is largely shaped by forces outside her control even before she becomes an adult. Girls face risks like early or forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Their access to healthcare, especially sexual and reproductive information and care, can be severely limited, as can their access to education and future economic opportunities. Factors like race, economic status, physical appearance, assigned sex at birth, religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression can further restrict their life choices and increase control from the outside world.

For many women, their adult lives are significantly shaped by the events and experiences of their adolescence, many of which were beyond their full control.

Changing the life trajectory of today’s adolescent girls is the most powerful way to make a quantum leap forward in gender equality.

Adolescent girls are highly susceptible to having their life choices restricted and their bodies controlled, especially during crises. If we fail to support this generation, we risk decades of stagnation in our collective pursuit of a more equitable future. Securing their health and rights is not just the right thing to do; it is our most effective tool for overcoming barriers to gender equality.

Adolescence, despite its vulnerabilities, is also a time when girls can and do lead positive change if given the right tools and resources. Additionally, systems and services that prioritize the needs of adolescent girls often benefit women of all ages and identities. We’re committed to advancing the rights of adolescent girls through our key programs:

  • Emerging Leaders for Change: Our Emerging Leaders for Change Program focuses on equitable youth engagement and co-leadership. By investing in young leaders connected to their communities, we create tailored, youth-centric solutions. These leaders, aged 15-29, receive funding, resources, and leadership opportunities to advocate for gender equality and SRHR on national, regional, and global levels.
  • Convenings for Change: Adolescent and youth advocates play a crucial role in shaping and leading all of Women Deliver’s convenings, from planning to execution. For example, Women Deliver’s 2023 Conference was co-created by a Youth Planning Committee, and every session featured one or more adolescent speaker.
  • Collective Action for Change: We leverage coalitions, alliances, networks, and global partnerships to unite advocates and allies. Through these collaborative efforts, we rally around pivotal global moments to address and advance the needs, priorities, and rights of adolescent girls, with adolescent girls themselves at the helm.

Adolescent girls face numerous challenges that impact their access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and services. Through its programs, Women Deliver focuses on two of the biggest global threats preventing girls from accessing SRHR and sexual and reproductive healthcare: the climate crisis and rise of the global anti-rights movement. In these areas, Women Deliver use its extensive knowledge and expertise to drive lasting change.

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