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

29 August 2014

From promise to action: Ending preventable maternal deaths in Kenya

UNITED NATIONS, New York – Key governors committed to take action to reduce Kenya’s high maternal death rate at a UNFPA-organized meeting held this week in Nairobi. The event brought together over 200 officials to address Kenya’s persistently high rate of maternal mortality, which is among the highest in the world. more
28 August 2014

Youth volunteers in Iran show their selfies to promote role of young people

KERMAN, Iran – “Youth are the capital of Iran,” said Zahra Akbari, 27, at a UNFPA-supported training session for youth volunteers, held in in Kerman, Iran. The volunteers – all young women –  took part in UNFPA’s #showyourselfie campaign to promote the role of youth in development. more
19 August 2014

Displaced Ukrainians find help, hope

LVIV, Ukraine – Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. Many are women with children, like Ketevan, a young woman whose recent displacement from Artemivsk, a city in the Luhansk Region of Ukraine, was the second time she has been forced to escape violence. more