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Young people

We empower young people to choose when or whether they have children, giving them the greatest chance of fulfilling their potential.

Access to sex education and contraceptive choice gives young people the greatest chance of completing their education, forging their careers, and pursuing their dreams.

We aim to empower young people to choose when or whether they have children, so they can fulfil their potential. We do this by increasing access to relevant service delivery channels that offer full contraceptive choice, and through mobilisation which reaches both young people and their influencers.

Young women (who we define as 25 and under) and adolescent girls (who we define as 15-19 years) are typically less likely to use contraception than older women, and the consequences of them becoming pregnant are often worse.

Complications from pregnancy are the second biggest cause of death globally amongst women aged 15-19. As the number of young women who are sexually active but not using contraception continues to grow, it is essential to scale up services that respond to their needs.

Globally, there are 7.4 million adolescent unintended pregnancies each year. It's the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15 - 19.

A 16-year-old in the Ethiopian highlands is more likely to be working her family’s fields and preparing for marriage, than visiting a youth centre or downloading an app.

Understanding young people

Often, when we think about young people, we make a number of assumptions about who they are.

We might think first of urban youth, those in full-time education, young people socialising with their friends or glued to their smartphones. Such assumptions can be dangerous and misleading.

Across our programs, three quarters of those under 25 are living in rural areas, whose life experiences are often jarringly different from those living in urban settings. As a group, rural youth are less likely to continue education past a primary level, and are more likely to marry young. 

In Afghanistan, six out of 10 women are married by the age of 16. In Niger, half of women have given birth before their 18th birthday.

We understand that – no matter how available contraception is or how affordable we make it – young people are unlikely to use it if they feel they will be stigmatised or punished for doing so. In many of the countries where we work, conservative attitudes towards premarital sex can make it difficult for young women to even talk about contraception, much less use it.

If I had gotten pregnant while I was at school then I wouldn't have been able to finish my education. Since coming to the clinic I feel like I have a future.
Lucile
Young client

Our commitment to young people

In 2015, 27% of the clients we served were young people aged 15–24, and about 6% were adolescents (15-19 year olds).

We know we can and must do better, and a number of our programmes are already driving this figure higher. In Mali, around a quarter of all clients last year were adolescents, and in Sierra Leone it was nearly a third. This is important because, right now, there are 620 million people in the developing world aged between 15 and 19 years old.

Globally, this age group represents one-fifth of all people of reproductive age. Not only are young people and adolescents under-represented among users of modern contraception, they are more likely to take drastic measures when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. For every 10 women hospitalised as the result of unsafe abortion, seven are under the age of 20.

In 2015 we doubled our FP2020 pledge, committing to reach 12 million additional users of contraception by 2020. Included in this is our commitment that we will have provided a modern method of contraception to 25 million young people.

Our new five-year strategy, 'Scaling-Up Excellence', will focus on learning what works and replicating such successes across our partnership.

Read our global strategy

Our commitment is that by 2020, we will have provided a modern method of contraception to 25 million young people.

Our team members are trained to serve young people and adolescents with respect and without judgement, and to challenge prejudices about who should be accessing contraception.

Promoting positive experiences

It is vital that contraceptive services are provided in a way that young women – including young unmarried women – feel safe, supported and empowered.

At Marie Stopes International, we are committed to training and supporting all our team members to serve the young people and adolescents they encounter with respect and without judgement, and to challenge any prejudices about who should be accessing contraception – including their own.

For services to be successful, they must also be sustainable, and we have made a commitment to our clients – whatever age they are – that our services will be there for the long term.

If we can get these things right, we will not only encourage more young women and adolescent girls to learn about contraception services earlier, we will also ensure that their experience is positive so they will return again and again.

How we're reaching young people

Our programmes are increasingly designed to meet the needs of young women and adolescent girls.

Our approach

We don’t do one-size-fits-all approaches. We work hard to understand our clients and their unique challenges, tailoring our services and solutions accordingly.

Our approach

Our services

We’ve been providing life-changing reproductive health services for over 40 years. We work hard to make sure these services are high quality, affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.

Our services

Our impact

In 2015 we reached more young people than ever before, but we know we must go further.

0%

of clients we served were aged 15-24

0%

Of youth clients were new to contraception

0%

Of youth clients opted for long-acting contraception

See who else we're reaching

We serve women, young people, communities and those living in fragile states, empowering them with the freedom to choose when or if they have children.

Women

Marie Stopes International works with women and girls all over the world, empowering them to choose when or whether to have children.

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Communities

Our teams belong to the communities they serve, building meaningful relationships that help them break down barriers and reach as many people as possible.

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Fragile states and humanitarian situations

Sexual and reproductive healthcare is a life-saving component of any humanitarian response. We work in partnership to reach women in fragile states, conflict zones, and during natural disasters.

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By 2020 there will be more women of reproductive age than ever before

We must be ready to serve them

Stay up to date with our progress

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