Adolescent and Youth-Friendly Health Services and Gender
As part of a systems approach to make existing family planning services more youth-friendly, it is imperative to address structural, sociocultural and individual barriers to youth’s access to sexual and reproductive health services. This includes ensuring information and services are available where and when adolescents can access them, competent providers who offer technically sound, nonjudgemental and confidential services and services linked to demand generation.
Due to personal beliefs, social norms and structural factors, providers may refuse services to adolescents, restrict their access to certain methods or treat them in a judgmental manner that deters them from seeking services. As a result, it is critical to address provider bias with a systems approach that puts adolescents at the center of services.
Gender norms can affect who is responsible for reproductive health, when it is appropriate to use contraception and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, and what methods are appropriate for adolescents. For example, some studies show that while men may believe that contraception is the responsibility of the woman or adolescent girl, they are open to becoming more involved. Another gender norm relates to young married women and cultural pressures to quickly bear a child and/or have many children. Adolescent and youth-friendly health services (AYFHS) can help address these gender norms.
Service providers trained in how to create a more supportive environment for adolescents seeking SRH services can help address barriers related to both demand – i.e., awareness of such services among youth – and supply – i.e., availability, privacy, cost and quality of services.
Below are the AYFHS interventions that local governments are implementing in TCI-supported hubs.