The reproductive health of young people in the Middle East and North Africa

Jocelyn DeJong, University of Manchester

Because of high rates of fertility in the past, nearly a third of the population of the Arab countries and Iran is in the age group 10 to 24 years. The age at marriage has risen rapidly across the region, meaning that young unmarried people raise a significant period of health risking the absence of extensive sexual education. The region has experienced rapid social change – such as urbanization, migration and the breakdown of social networks -- increasing the reproductive and sexual health risks of this age group. Moreover, poverty, conflict and displacement in many countries exacerbate health risks. Despite these trends, there has been little attention to policy or services to meet their needs. This paper would address the main issues pertaining to the reproductive and sexual health and rights of young people in the region based on a review of both unpublished and published literature as well as telephone and in-person interviews in the region.

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Presented in Session 86: The demography of Arab countries