Technical Guidance for Prioritizing Adolescent Health

A safe and successful passage from adolescence into adulthood is the right of every individual. This right can only be fulfilled if societies make focused investments and provide opportunities to ensure that adolescents progressively develop the knowledge, skills, social and economic assets, and resilience needed for a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life. Moreover, adolescence is a strategic period during the life course to emphasize empowerment and preventive approaches that would enable adolescents to survive, thrive, and transform their societies.

Adolescence is the conjugator of childhood and adulthood.

Louise J. Kaplan , Writer

Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born.

G. Stanley Hall, American Psychologist

However, decisions made during adolescence, particularly regarding sexual and reproductive health, can have a long-term impact on the young person and on human development in general. Puberty—the biological onset of adolescence—brings not only changes to adolescent brains and bodies, but also new challenges and life transitions: initiating sexual activity, forming their identities, starting relationships, and in some cases, entering into unions and forming families, forced in the majority of cases. For many girls in particular, early adolescence marks the beginning of a life trajectory characterized by a lack of autonomy and choices in these areas, and vulnerabilities to human rights abuses. Girls across the world are often coerced into unwanted sex or marriage, and face high risks of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV. These challenges can have serious implications on other areas of their health, their education, their welfare, and future opportunities, as well as their countries’ overall trajectory toward building inclusive and sustainable societies.