Advancing and upholding reproductive rights is fundamental to realizing girls’ and women’s human rights and achieving gender equality globally
Washington, D.C., June 24, 2022 — Reproductive rights—including access to comprehensive sex education, contraception, and safe and legal abortion—are fundamental to girls’ and women’s human rights. As an organization that focuses on ending sexual violence against girls, we know from more than a decade of work that approximately one in four girls experience sexual violence before their eighteenth birthday, and many of them become pregnant as a result.
Limiting abortion access uniquely impacts survivors of sexual violence. Across countries that conducted a Violence Against Children and Youth Survey, we know girls experience sexual violence at staggering rates. In Malawi, for example, 38% of girls’ first experience of sexual intercourse was forced or coerced, and 33% of girls who were raped prior to age 18 became pregnant. In Honduras, 16% of girls who were raped prior to age 18 became pregnant. According to the Rwandan Violence Against Children and Youth Survey, 48% of girls who were raped prior to age 18 became pregnant.
The lack of access to safe and legal abortion profoundly impacts girls’ and women’s lives, education, economic opportunities, and long-term health outcomes. We know that already vulnerable and marginalized populations, including adolescent girls, are disproportionately impacted by restrictions on access to reproductive health care and safe, legal abortion.
The World Health Organization reports that of the estimated 5.6 million abortions that occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years, 3.9 million are unsafe, contributing to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems. When girls and women have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, this increases positive outcomes for them, their families, and their communities. Abortion access is also essential to ensuring prevention, healing and justice for survivors of violence.
Through our work to create a safer world for all children and adolescents, we know and advocate that advancing and upholding reproductive rights is fundamental to realizing girls’ and women’s human rights and achieving gender equality globally.
About Together for Girls
Together for Girls is a global partnership working to end violence against children and adolescents, particularly sexual violence against girls. The partnership brings together more than 20 national governments, civil society organizations, UN entities, development partners, and the private sector to improve violence prevention, healing and justice. Together for Girls uses an innovative model of data, advocacy and action to drive lasting change and create a safer world for all.