Sexual and reproductive health

WHO commits to stand against female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM)

22 July 2014 – WHO participated in the first Girl Summit in London. Organized by the UK Government, and co-hosted by UNICEF, the summit aimed to mobilize domestic and international efforts to end FGM and child, early and forced marriage within a generation. The summit invited dialogue and commitments from partner agencies, the private sector, religious organizations, civil society, and governments around the world.

Very young adolescents

Women and young adolescents, India
Curt Carnemark / World Bank
Women and young adolescents, India

While physical, psychological and social development extends from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood, there is growing recognition that early adolescence (10-14 years) is an especially crucial phase. There is also widespread recognition that early adolescence has been/is being neglected both in research and in action.

Overcoming barriers to adolescent health education and health services

Adolescents work in small groups during a workshop on reproductive health, Bangladesh.
Adolescents work in small groups during a workshop on reproductive health, Bangladesh.

When national Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health strategies are not implemented effectively, adolescents and young people are unable to obtain the sexuality and reproductive health education they need in their schools and communities, and sexual and reproductive health services they need from health facilities in their communities. The result is unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and STIs including HIV infection.

Preventing early pregnancy

Young woman in Nepal cooking on floor
Ed Scholl/Photoshare
Early marriage and childbearing are the norm for Nepali women with few opportunities for educationd'

An estimated 16 million births occur to young women aged 15-19 years, and 1 million births occur to girls aged 10-14. For some of these girls and young women, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many others they are not.


Strategic areas of work

Related links

Sample core instruments

These instruments are intended to be no more than a starting point for investigators wishing to study the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Authors caution that these instruments should always be adapted to local circumstances and research priorities and, wherever possible, be used in conjunction with each other.

Joining forces to prevent early marriage


Key note address delivered by Dr Marleen Temmerman Viewing Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Very Young Adolescents through a Wide Angle Lens.

WHO Media Centre