Adolescents and Youth

Towards Realizing the Full Potential of Adolescents and Youth

Today's adolescents and youth are 1.8 billion strong and make up one quarter of the world's population. They are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms and values, and building the foundation of the world's future. Maturing earlier than previous generations, both physically and socially, adolescents and youth have high expectations for themselves and their societies, and are imagining how the world can be better. Connected to each other like never before through new media and because of globalization, they are driving social progress and directly influencing the sustainability and resilience of their communities and their nations.

While notable progress has been made, many adolescents — especially girls — are denied the investments and opportunities that they need to realize their full potential. For example, 26 per cent of girls (39 million) and 17 per cent of boys of secondary school age (11-15) were not enrolled in school in 2008. About 215 million underage children work full or part-time, while 75 million older youth (15-24) cannot find work.

For millions of young people around the world, puberty — the biological onset of adolescence — brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing. Millions of girls are coerced into unwanted sex or marriage to then also face the high risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, and dangerous childbirth.

With offices in 140 countries, specialized expertise in demography and in sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and with a strong capacity for policy advocacy, communications, and programming, UNFPA's contribution to the advancement of adolescents and youth is anchored in five strategic pillars:

  • Enable evidence-based advocacy for comprehensive policy and programme development, investment and implementation
  • Promote comprehensive sexuality education
  • Build capacity for sexual and reproductive health service delivery (including HIV prevention, treatment and care)
  • Take bold initiatives to reach marginalized and disadvantaged adolescents and youth, especially Girls
  • Promote youth leadership and participation

Publications

Fact Sheets

Multimedia

 

International Year of Youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initiatives and Partnerships

23 July 2014

For a Better World for All

  It is now 100 long days since the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok in northern Nigeria shocked and outraged the world. While a few of the girls have managed to escape their captors, the majority remain separated from their shattered families.   more
22 July 2014

Girl Summit aims to end child marriage and FGM/C

UNITED NATIONS, New York – Despite the advances made in promoting human rights, girls remain among the most vulnerable people in the world. In developing countries, one in three girls are married before reaching age 18, despite the fact that this practice has been widely outlawed. Approximately one in nine girls are married before reaching age 15. Additionally, some 125 million girls and women have been subjected to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), most of them before age 15. more
21 July 2014

UNFPA engages young people in the fight against HIV

MELBOURNE, Australia – Every hour, about 80 young people are newly infected with HIV, according to the recently released Gap Report by UNAIDS. The participation and leadership of young people will therefore be critical in bringing the global HIV epidemic to an end. Today, at the 20th International AIDS Conference, UNFPA launched a youth networking zone called the ‘coolibah’, where young people will be able to speak with leaders in the field of HIV and AIDS. more