Adolescent girls are shaping humanity’s present and future. Depending on their opportunities and choices, they can begin adulthood as empowered and active citizens, or become neglected, voiceless and entrenched in poverty.
In or outside of marriage, adolescent pregnancy risks derailing girls’ healthy development and prevents them from achieving their full potential. Preventing too-early pregnancy is central in helping girls achieve their goals—so too, is respect for adolescents’ rights.
Respecting and protecting adolescents’ rights entails engaging them in the decision-making process from the individual to the policy level, assuring that they are fully informed decision-makers and have the skills to voice their perspectives and priorities, and that approaches are non-coercive as well as evidence-based. Respect for adolescents’ rights involves engaging the institutions charged with the protection and capacity-building of adolescents, such as health, education, social welfare, and labour.