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Global Community Must Talk Openly About Young People’s Sexual Health To Eliminate Barriers To Information, Commodities

“This World Population Day 2013” — observed Thursday — “the focus is on adolescent pregnancy,” Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. She provides statistics about pregnancy and reproductive health among adolescent girls and states, “These statistics show: we need to talk frankly and openly about young people’s sexual and reproductive health.” She continues, “In virtually every country in the world, there are disproportionate barriers for young people — particularly young women — when they seek contraception or access to information and commodities to practice safer sex. And this must stop. Girls and young women must have access to contraception and information — no exceptions.” She tells the story of Haregnesh Abetneh, a young woman in Ethiopia participating in “a Pathfinder International program that supports girls in Amhara, Ethiopia, to continue their studies,” and writes, “This World Population Day, I hope we will think of girls like Haregnesh and her friends and recommit ourselves to addressing the unique needs of young women and girls.” She concludes, “If we are truly going to meet the goals we ambitiously set forth for 2020 at the Family Planning Summit in London, we must commit to ensuring adolescent girls have the support and resources they need to delay marriage and childbirth, stay in school, and start their adult lives the way each of them want to” (7/9).