That’s 18 million girls – roughly three times the population of Denmark, my home country – who are often robbed of the chance to reach their full potential, stripped of their dreams and deprived of the chance to pursue their ambitions.
Adolescent pregnancy regularly goes hand in hand with child marriage, thrusting adult responsibilities onto girls before they are ready and putting them into a position of subjugation for the rest of their lives. Pregnant girls and child mothers often drop out of school, limiting their future earning potential as well as their ability to be active citizens and shape the communities in which they live.
Girls and young women are disproportionately affected by violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. Younger adolescent girls (aged 10-14 years) are particularly at risk, regularly considered too young to need access to information and services, yet old enough to get married and have children. Their specific needs are all too often forgotten by systems that cater for either children or women, neglecting to recognise the unique challenges faced by adolescents.
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It is Time to Uphold Girls’ Right to Choose