October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child- when we reflect on the inequalities faced by women and girls worldwide and the importance of promoting empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights. A critical issue for young girls globally is being able to exercise their Reproductive Rights – the ability to make informed decisions about issues that affect their bodies and fertility. These include but are not limited to comprehensive, legal, safe and affordable access to contraception, abortion and pregnancy care.
Did you know that 16 million girls aged 15-19 years old and around 1 million girls younger than 15 years old give birth every single year, particularly in low and middle income countries1? Most of these girls are unaware of their reproductive rights and face significant barriers accessing services.
Adolescent pregnancies and childbearing can have negative health, economic and social consequences for young women. In fact, complications related pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds globally. It is estimated that 3 million unsafe abortions take place every year amongst this age group2, contributing to the 13% of maternal deaths that result from unsafe abortion globally3. Adolescent pregnancy can also create barriers to educational attainment, participation in the formal economy and safe motherhood, contributing to the cycle of poverty.
Providing adolescents with comprehensive reproductive health can change a young woman’s life. Of the 252 million adolescent women aged 15–19 living in developing regions in 2016, an estimated 38 million are sexually active and do not want a child in the next two years and of those, less than 40% are using a modern method of contraception. Meeting their needs would significantly reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal deaths globally4.
So what are you waiting for? A small investment of $15AUD can help provide one year of contraception and allow an adolescent to exercise their reproductive rights. Donate now.