Middle East & North Africa

© 1995 Deborah S. Doyle, Courtesy of Photoshare

In the Middle East and North Africa region, one-third of the population is between the ages of 10-24. The ability of these young people to grow into healthy, productive citizens depends on how well governments and nongovernmental organizations invest in youth reproductive health policy and programming.

A Women Deliver fact sheet on young people in the Middle East and North Africa reports that in this region, approximately 4 million young women under the age of 20 are married. In Egypt, female genital cutting is almost universal, with 97% of women of reproductive age having undergone the procedure. In Afghanistan, 40% of girls are married before they reach the age of 18, and in Yemen, one-fourth of girls are married before the age of 15. This trend is particularly worrisome in light of the fact that girls under 15 are five times more likely to die of childbirth-related complications than women in their 20’s.

Young people must be empowered through comprehensive laws and policies that provide them with both awareness about and autonomy over their own sexual and reproductive health. This section of the Youth Policy Toolkit contains national policies, strategy documents, and other materials that support youth reproductive health policy and strive to improve youth reproductive health outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa.

Resources