Of the global adolescent population of 1.1 billion under 18 years, more than half live in Asia and the Pacific Region. Adolescent girls in the Asia Pacific region face significant barriers such as limited access to healthcare (including sexual and reproductive health care), education, economic, social, and political participation, and high levels of violence and discrimination. This can lead to poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes such as high adolescent pregnancy rates, STIs including HIV, and sexual and gender-based violence.
Despite the greater focus on ASRH in the global health agenda, it continues to be challenging in Southeast Asia to generate political and policy prioritisation for adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH).
Many young people see their potential hindered by social norms, cultural attitudes, institutional and structural barriers and violations of their fundamental rights by virtue of their age. However, in the policy-making sphere, adolescent SRH is an emotionally charged issue as it deals with sexuality (considered a taboo subject) and adolescents are considered “too young” to make decisions about their bodies, lives and futures.
This policy brief aims to support national governments, including those working with national governments to develop and implement policies, donors and civil society to take adequate steps to coordinate action and contribute to the safety, health, and education of adolescent girls, and build opportunities for them.
The brief unpacks the policy environment and includes a number of recommendations to strengthen the promotion and protection of the rights of adolescent girls.