Young people

Every young person will one day have to make life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, yet research shows that the majority of adolescents lack the knowledge required to make those decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

Every young person will one day have to make life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, yet research shows that the majority of adolescents lack the knowledge required to make those decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

Comprehensive sexuality education enables young people to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health. These programmes build life skills and increase responsible behaviors, and because they are based on human rights principles, they help advance human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of young people, particularly adolescents.

In Swaziland, adolescent birth rate remains high, though having declined from 111 births per 1,000 adolescents aged 15-19 years in 2007 to 87 births per 1,000 in 2014. Teenage pregnancy is largely attributable to early and unprotected sexual activity, which shows a rapid increase from about 3% by age 15 years to about 50% by the time adolescent girls reach the age of 17.  Contraceptive use among unmarried adolescents is low (15.5%) and condom use among this group is even lower at 9%. Although 75% of health facilities provide adolescent sexual reproductive health services only 26% of these provided adolescent youth-friendly health services and integrated family planning services.

UNFPA Swaziland partners with the government and civil society to increase the national capacity to design and implement both school-based and out-of-school /community-based comprehensive sexuality education programmes that promote human rights and gender equality. The programme supports advocacy for the development and implementation sexual and reproductive health and education policies that protect the rights of adolescents and youth, particularly adolescent girls. UNFPA also works with the government and civil society to increase coverage of out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education programmes; to develop a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for training of pre-service and in-service teachers; to implement leadership development programmes for adolescent girls (particularly in rural areas); and to establish forums for effective participation of youth in development processes.