Adolescent and Youth Motherhood: What Do Comprehensive SRH Policies Look Like?

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

Advocating for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people entails much more than giving visibility to what happens when rights are restrained or denied. This endeavor requires a deep understanding of the specific needs that young people have in this regard – usually linked to individual and collective diversities –as well as of the different barriers we might encounter along the way.

The family planning strategies implemented around the world in the last couple of decades have proven their effectiveness but not necessarily amongst the youngest population. The State of World Population1 released in 2013, revels a startling reality: 7.3 million births occur among girls under 18 every year in developing countries. Among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes a number of middle-income countries, Mexico has the highest birth rate (64.2 per 1,000 births) among adolescents between 15 and 192.

In a context where inequality gaps continue to increase and violence is exercised systematically against women and girls, the Adolescent and Youth Motherhood Project seeks to provide tools to increase the capacity of adolescent and young mothers living in marginalized urban areas, to advocate for better sexual and reproductive health policies.

How are we doing it? Through participatory assessments with adolescent and young mothers from Mexico City where we identify the barriers they face in accessing timely and quality sexual and reproductive health services and information.

What outputs will be delivered? An advocacy peer-education handbook for adolescent and young mothers, as well as a capacity-building workshop directed to local non-profit organizations, an online campaign on adolescent and youth motherhood, and a policy recommendation document. 

What are the expected outcomes? To leverage political commitments to develop and implement comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policies to address young people’s needs, including that of adolescent and young mothers, and allocate the resources to do so.

Our decision to work with this specific population and to address the issue of youth motherhood is inspired by the daily struggle of thousands of young women that were given no other choice than to become mothers; whose right to choose maternity was truncated, and whose voice has not been heard.

Progress has been made, yet the task is not complete until every young person in the world regardless of his/her race, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, and health condition, among others, is able to fully exercise every fundamental right, including sexual and reproductive rights.

Stay tuned for the upcoming updates on this amazing project.

United Nations Population Fund (2013). The State of World Population 2013. Available at

United Nations Population Fund (2013). Motherhood in childhood: Facing the challenges of adolescent pregnancy. Available at


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