Today the world is home to 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, which constitutes the largest generation of young people in history. Sixty percent of young people live in Asia, and the Middle East has one of the youngest populations in the world. A growing youth population means both an expanding workforce and, given the current economic climate, higher rates of unemployment and poverty. Adolescents, especially girls, face the tremendous challenges of early marriage, unintended pregnancy, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Youth sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues in Asia and the Middle East vary greatly by country. Yet data are limited and are often not easily accessible or disaggregated by age or gender. The implementation of effective youth SRH programs and policies requires a comprehensive understanding of the complicated issues affecting young people.
To improve understanding of young people’s needs in this region, USAID’s Advancing Partners & Communities Project (APC) launched a new dashboard on key youth indicators related to gender and SRH in 19 countries in the Middle East and in Central, South, and Southeast Asia. The 19 countries covered are among USAID priority countries for reproductive health in regions where burgeoning youth populations represent both challenges and opportunities.
This unique tool provides data from more than 25 sources not aggregated elsewhere and discusses the implications of this information for youth SRH. The dashboard allows program managers, policymakers, ministries of health, researchers, youth advocates, and donors to examine regional data sheets to compare key youth SRH indicators across regions and view the full list of indicators analyzed for the countries within each region.
Examples of indicators highlighted on the dashboard include adolescent pregnancy rates, HIV prevalence, rates of early marriage, and literacy rates. For example, in Bangladesh, nearly 30 percent of adolescent girls are married by age 15, and 65 percent are married by age 18. In Laos, nearly 55 percent of girls have given birth by age 18. This resource also showcases some more positive trends, especially regarding transition from primary to secondary education. In both the Philippines and Uzbekistan, 98 percent of females and 100 percent of males transitioned to secondary school.
The growing youth population presents an opportunity for the Asia and Middle East regions: when young people are healthy and empowered they can be productive, influential members of their communities and their countries. Accessible data, as presented in this dashboard, will facilitate the development of interventions that improve young people’s access to SRH services and enable them to lead healthy and productive lives.
Learn more about Advancing Partners & Communities (APC)