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Joint Statement on Accelerating Progress Toward the Prevention and Reduction of Early and Adolescent Pregnancy
September 20, 2023

The United States Joined the Following Joint Statement at the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council

Agenda Item 3 – General Debate

Joint Statement on Accelerating Progress Toward the Prevention and Reduction of Early and Adolescent Pregnancy

Delivered by the Delegation of Panama

Mr. President.

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of a cross-regional group of countries.

Early and adolescent pregnancy profoundly affects the lives of young girls worldwide, especially those in situations of vulnerability and marginalization, by hampering their health, social, economic and political progress and empowerment.

Every year, an estimated 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and 2 million girls aged under 15 years become pregnant. Several factors contribute to this global challenge, such as poverty and social exclusion; harmful gender norms and stereotypes; child, early and forced marriage, sexual and gender-based violence; lack of age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly health information and services; and the failure of systems and institutions to protect girls’ rights.

The consequences of early and adolescent pregnancy are well documented. It is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity, child mortality and obstetric fistula. Pregnant girls also face stigma and too often are pressured or forced to drop out of school, with severe impacts in their future educational and employment opportunities and ability to participate in public and political life, thus perpetuating intergenerational cycles of poverty.

Preventing early and adolescent pregnancy is a public health, developmental and human rights issue. Therefore, a more holistic, age and gender-responsive approach is required to ensure that no girl is left behind and to guarantee their best interests.

We call on States to further strengthen national strategies and policies to accelerate progress towards the prevention and reduction of early and adolescent pregnancy, in line with human rights instruments, in particular the CRC and CEDAW, as well as the ICPD, the SDGs and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s health.

To that end, we must work in close collaboration with all stakeholders, especially UN agencies and bodies, NHRIs, civil society organizations, families, teachers, religious and community leaders, young people, including girls and adolescents themselves, to effectively address its drivers and impacts, and create an enabling environment for gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, quality education and information.

Thank you.