Journal article

Aligning human rights and social norms for adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights

Author: Ana Maria Buller and Marie Celine Schulte
Published by: Reproductive Health Matters Journal
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The 10th of December 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. On the 20th November, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reached its 29th anniversary. In September, 24 years had passed since the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo introduced the term sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and declared SRHR as a fundamental human right, including for adolescents. Only three years ago, all UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that included a specific target for achieving universal access to SRHR (Gender Equality Goal 5). Despite these important efforts to create consensus around human rights frameworks and steps to secure universal access to SRHR, the promise of child rights and adolescent girls’ and boys’ evolving capacities to claim SRH rights remains unrealised. For instance, a recent review of evidence on the SRHR of adolescent girls highlighted that many low- and middle-income countries have not yet made significant progress in delaying marriage and childbearing, reducing unwanted childbearing, or narrowing socioeconomic, health and gender gaps that could reduce girls’ risks of adverse adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) outcomes and related health effects over the life course.