Author: Tawassar Ali, November 1 2013      In every society, young people hold the key to the society’s future. In Pakistan, 70 percent of the population consists of young people. They have unique socio-economic, educational, and health needs, but youth of Pakistan have still not been made partners at the state level in the decisionmaking process and country development. Youth in Pakistan feel that their views do not matter. The Pakistani youth are expressing demands and concerns related to education, economic life, and health; they have need information services and support regarding sexual and reproductive health. Youth of Pakistan are deprived of their rights, and government doesn’t work for them. As an example of neglecting youth, at the national level, there is no youth facilitation and information service centre in existence. Young girls and women are also suffering from poor access to reproductive health; young girls and women have limited knowledge regarding pregnancy-related complications. Girls aged 15-19 who give birth are at more risk to die or suffer complications in childbirth, while girls below the age of 15 are at the highest risk to die from childbirth.

In Pakistan, there are several factors that contribute to poor reproductive health, including religion-based pressure and the influence of the conservative mindset in society. On the other side is: the limited knowledge of risks of unprotected sex and methods of contraception; lack of participation of youth in decisionmaking; poor communication and negotiation with adults; poor information; and unhealthy lifestyles. Youth have limited access of reproductive health and family planning services. In response to the growing global need to improve the reproductive health of young people, youth of Pakistan should have access to age-appropriate and relevant reproductive health and family planning information and services. Adopting global best practices in reproductive health will have a positive outcome. The integrated approach can support youth reproductive health.

The alarming decline in socio-economic conditions continues unabated, giving rise to new frustrations every day. Social and economic inequities, limited access to education, health, and other basic facilities, unemployment, growing poverties and increasing inflation are producing an atmosphere of despair and are causing increasing illegal activities. Evidence demonstrates that positive youth reproductive health links with improved education and economic opportunities. Youth-focused programming supports young people to develop skills and leads them to choose family planning. This is the best time for the Pakistan government to invest in youth and activate their positive energy and address their reproductive and sexual health issues.

Youth-friendly reproductive health services are essentials to promote safer reproductive health behaviors. A life skills-based curriculum needs to be developed in education systems. Youth and adult partnership is one of the most prominent strategic methods that builds the trust between youth and adults, where youth and adults can openly discuss reproductive and sexual health issues. A supportive and enabling environment for youth is essential for their positive development; the active involvement of parents and communities benefit the reproductive health of young people. Increasing access to quality reproductive health and family planning services can be fruitful for youth reproductive health.

The youth of Pakistan is its most promising resource for advocacy in reproductive and sexual health; if this energy is put to proper use, it will bring a society where people will be well aware of their reproductive health and sexual rights.