Throughout its report, the panel documents systematic gender differences in pathways to adulthood as well as the universal persistence of dual social norms relating to the sexual behavior of young people. The panel’s recommendations on gender equality emphasize the promotion of equitable treatment in the classroom through gender training for teachers and school administrators, the development of compensatory educational and training programs for disadvantaged and out of school youth, particularly girls, and the adoption of policies and programs that support delays in marriage in places where girls still marry before age 18. Addressing gender problems in society will call for interventions that affect all social classes and that give as much attention to boys’ attitudes and behaviors as to girls’.
In developing recommendations, the panel focused on policies and programs for young people in the area of sexual and reproductive health as specified in the panel’s original charge. We also documented the emergence of other areas of health and health behaviors that need policy and program attention, including mental health and health compromising behaviors such as smoking. The panel identified maternal mortality as one of the major causes of death and morbidity for young women in all developing regions except Eastern Asia and HIV/AIDS as the major cause of death and morbidity for young people in sub-Saharan Africa.
The provision of information and services for young people, married and unmarried, in the area of sexual and reproductive health is generally limited to small-scale efforts that reach a fraction of the population of young people. The panel recommends that policy makers give priority to increasing the provision of general health information and sex education, including negotiating skills, in school and out of school for all young people and to increasing the availability of services for those who are sexually active. No single approach is likely to serve the needs of all young people, however, given their diversity of life circumstances.
In the view of the panel, programs designed to reduce risky and unprotected sex among young people are critical to successful transitions and will require multipronged and multisectoral approaches that are culturally appropriate, community based, and sensitive to the needs and preferences of young people, including active collaboration between the health and education sectors. Indeed, some of the most important reproductive health interventions for young people may lie outside the health sector. For example, school participation and attainment appear to have important and mostly