Focus on Adolescent Girls

Tomorrow Is Today Aged 10 and She's a Girl. Change Her Life, Change the World

There are more than 500 million adolescent girls currently living in developing countries. Each year, an estimated 14.2 million of them are married. While marriage would normally be the occasion to celebrate the union of two people, for millions of girls, marriage is anything but a reason for celebration: It is a human rights violation that denies them their childhood. About 16 million adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 give birth each year. For some of these young women, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many others they are not. Childbirth at an early age is associated with greater health risks for the mother. In low- and middle-income countries, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15–19 years.

By ensuring that adolescent girls are equipped with the agency, knowledge and skills they will need, girl-centred programmes can contribute to the efforts of young people and governments to end inter-generational poverty, illiteracy, ill health, and gender inequality. Supporting girls and young women to stay in school, preventing marriage and pregnancy in childhood, building their productive assets, and promoting decent work are critical actions to safeguard the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, as well as to ensure that they are healthy and productive members of society.

As part of the Adolescent and Youth Strategy approved in 2012, UNFPA committed to step up investments towards ending child marriage and reducing adolescent pregnancy by reaching the most marginalized adolescent girls, especially those at risk of child marriage and those who are already married. UNFPA is delivering on this commitment through the Adolescent Girls Initiative in 12 countries – in a manner that is aligned with the ICPD Programme of Action and fully within the framework of the Fund’s new Strategic Plan 2014-17.


News and Features



The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking







Voices of 15-Year-Old Girls







Teenage Mother in Manila’s Slums







Jamaica Teen Pregnancy







Adolescent Moms in Trinidad and Tobago







Adolescent Moms in and Guyana







Too brief a child






Initiatives and Partnerships