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J Adolesc Health. 2015 Jan;56(1 Suppl):S51-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.07.022.

Ensuring youth's right to participation and promotion of youth leadership in the development of sexual and reproductive health policies and programs.

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Department of Health Behavior, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:
Independent Consultant, Oslo, Norway.


The purpose of this article was to reflect on the concepts of adolescence and youth, summarize models and frameworks developed to conceptualize youth participation, and assess research that has attempted to evaluate the implementation and impact of youth participation in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We searched and critically reviewed relevant published reports and "gray literature" from the period 2000-2013. "Young people" are commonly defined as those between the ages of 10 and 24 years, but what it means to be a young person varies largely across cultures and depends on a range of socioeconomic factors. Several conceptual frameworks have been developed to better understand youth participation, and some frameworks are designed to monitor youth development programs that have youth participation as a key component. Although none of them are SRHR specific, they have the potential to be adapted and applied also for adolescents' SRHR programs. The most monitored and evaluated intervention type is peer education programs, but the effectiveness of the approach is questioned. There are few attempts to systematically evaluate youth participation, and clear indicators and better methodologies still need to be developed. More research and documentation as well as the adoption of innovative practices for involving youth in sexual and reproductive health programs are needed. Participation is a right and should not only be evaluated in terms of effectiveness and impact. Youth participation in program and policy development should still be a priority.


Human rights; Participation; Reproductive health; Sexuality; Youth

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