There are 1.8 billion young people in the world between the ages of 10 and 24—the most youth on the planet in history. Young people are not the future—we are the present and we are the now. The international sexual and reproductive health and rights community should strive to integrate young people’s voices into all spheres of the reproductive health and rights conversation at the local, national and global levels.
That’s why I’m here at Women Deliver—because we young leaders have to stand up for our rights and the rights of women and girls everywhere. I feel strongly that every woman, regardless of age or where she lives, must have the ability to decide her own future— including her reproductive future.
At Ipas, we work to ensure that all women can make their own decisions about pregnancy and access safe abortion care if they choose. I’m an advocate for safe abortion care because I believe seeking access is not a criminal act. Women and girls should not be arrested and jailed for making their own reproductive choices, nor should they be stigmatized for making their own choices about their health and lives.
Yet they are. We see this all over the world—even, and especially, today.
Humanitarian crises are growing. More and more women and girls are being forced from their homes and sometimes even separated from their families to live in temporary housing where even basic health care is hard to come by. These are the women and girls who are most at risk of sexual violence and unintended pregnancy. It should be irrelevant where those women live or what their socioeconomic standing is. Every young woman should have access to safe abortion services.
Now is the time to make a difference. All people—including young people—can be advocates for safe abortion. I am an advocate for safe abortion and I start by making sure the conversation about sexual and reproductive health and rights always includes the right to safe abortion for adolescents and young women.
Photo courtesy of Southbank Centre on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.