Not only is there a great need for programs that protect and promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health, but young people themselves should be actively participating in these efforts. They know best what their particular needs are and should be consulted and involved in developing such initiatives. Simply having a “youth” program within an organization or agency does not necessarily guarantee their meaningful participation. Youth should be engaged to become active partners and not just seen as the subjects of these interventions—enabling them to become leaders in their communities and to make decisions on matters that affect their lives.

This fact sheet, based on a Journal of Adolescent Health supplement, looks at which interventions have been undertaken thus far to foster youth participation, the key elements, and what has been successful. It also outlines relevant UN agreements and key resources for developing effective programs.

The research and review articles were developed as part of an expert group meeting convened by the World Health Organization, United Nations Family Planning Fund, and the International Women’s Health Coalition.