This blog entry, titled “International Youth Day: Meeting the Reproductive Health Needs of Youth,”  was written by Cate Lane, youth technical advisor for USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health on August 12, 2011. It originally appeared on USAID’s “Impact” blog and can be accessed here.

I first came to D.C. in 1994, the year of the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, which marked a milestone in the field of population and reproductive health.  The conference set a turning point as the world agreed that population is not about numbers but about people and their rights.  It also solidified my commitment to youth, health, and development, which began when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer working with youth in Ghana.  Today, I am the youth advisor for USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health.

More than half of the world’s population is under age 25.  I believe meeting the reproductive health needs for today’s young people is vital in ensuring that future generations are able to lead healthy and dignified lives.  When girls are able to delay first pregnancy, they are more likely to obtain an education and end the cycle of poverty.  The United Nations proclaimed the past year commencing on August 12, 2010 as the International Year of Youth.  As the year comes to an end on International Youth Day, let us continue to stress the need for investment in programs that reach out to youth.