The 20 year review of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action provides a unique opportunity to bring critical attention to adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Africa. In a region where harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriage continue to violate the rights of girls and young women and cause lasting health consequences, it is a timely reminder that we still have a long way to go to achieve lasting and widespread change.
Covering nine countries in Africa, this report serves to highlight government progress in implementing the ICPD PoA, as well as gaps in implementation. The report provides an independent account of progress, which is critical in ensuring accountability for implementation of global commitments. It draws on the first hand experiences of YWCAs working directly with women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa to provide comprehensive SRHR information and referrals. By providing safe spaces for young women to discuss SRHR, we have been able to document some of the barriers and challenges that continue to prevent the full realisation of SRHR. This has highlighted an urgent need for improved SRHR service delivery to young people and adolescents, which is confidential, nonjudgemental and evidence based. It has also affirmed the critical importance of keeping girls in school and facilitating transitions from education to employment as key factors in enabling young women and girls to access health services.