More than half of the world’s population today is youth under age 30, providing an important opportunity for development.
Yet young people have a particular set of challenges to overcome in order to lead healthy and productive lives, not the least of which is gender-based violence. Over a billion children (under age 18) are exposed to violence each year—and the health consequences into adulthood are well known.
As with adults, gender norms greatly influence young people’s attitudes and behaviors, and access to and use of information and services. Girls are particularly vulnerable to reproductive health problems for both biological and social reasons, and often have little say over the conditions of sexual relations and childbearing, whether they take place within marriage or outside it. Boys, however, are also at risk, either by complying with expected gender norms that encourage high-risk sexual behavior, or by stepping outside of those norms.