Now is the time to include young people in family planning, an important aspect of reproductive health, which allows individuals and couples to make good decisions about the number of children they need.
It is a human right that everyone should enjoy, including young people. However, despite the benefits of family planning, many young people are unaware of its importance or do not have access to it.
The decisions they make, particularly regarding sexuality and reproductive health, affect their lives. But collectively, their decisions will also influence global health, population and development throughout the 21st century. Young people often cannot make informed decisions about reproductive health.
Many do not have access to education and information regarding family planning and reproductive health. This is why family planning is an issue we should all care about. When a young woman becomes pregnant before the age of 20, it can deprive her of the opportunity to live her healthiest and most productive life.
A teenage girl who becomes pregnant is at higher risk of infections. In low- and middle-income countries, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among adolescent girls. Thousands of young women survive childbirth but suffer from pregnancy-related health problems for the rest of their lives. Unplanned pregnancies disrupt young women’s plans in many other ways. Adolescents who become pregnant often drop out of school, wasting their lifetime earnings and locking their families into an intergenerational cycle of poverty.
Involving young people in family planning will help ensure they have the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
Additionally, involving young people in family planning will help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, which can have serious consequences for young women’s health.
Second, involving young people in family planning will also promote gender equality by encouraging young women to take charge of their reproductive health. To achieve this, we must provide young people with accurate information about family planning, access to contraceptives and reproductive health services, to ensure they live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Mr. Ngotiek is a youth advocate in Naya Kenya