Judging by current U.S. political debates, you might think women’s reproductive health wasn’t a huge priority for governments. But the U.N. would like to tell world leaders that they do, indeed, need to wake up and take birth control more seriously, especially when it comes to young women.
At last week’s Commission of Population and Development, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon explained in a speech that he believes the U.N. (of which the U.S. has been a member since 1945) bears a “collective responsibility” to drive down adolescent pregnancy rates in girls and HIV rates among youth:
Youth have great hopes for the future – but they cannot survive on hopes. They need food, jobs and health care.
They especially need reproductive health care.
We cannot ignore the facts. Many young people are sexually active. And because of this, they may face risks to their health, including sexual violence. They need the information and means to protect themselves.
All young people have potential power. But they have very different needs.
An adolescent girl struggling in poverty requires different protection than a male college graduate.
Our goal is to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for all, regardless of their circumstances.
His statement is pretty strong, considering that the U.N. encompasses 193 member states, many of which have strong religious and moral misgivings when it comes to providing birth control to teens. And, while many of his statements seem directed at developing countries where youth are struggling to overcome big issues like poverty and lack of access to health care, we think they’re pretty much applicable to women everywhere.