Although some progress has been made, adolescents continue to be disproportionately burdened by threats to their sexual and reproductive health. Politics heavily influences the priority setting process for reproductive health. However, the mechanisms for securing political commitment towards sexual and reproductive health are rarely examined in detail. There is little information about the nature of commitments that specifically address adolescent SRH (the focus is more generally on women).
This report provides examples of political commitments that have contributed to some countries making progress in (adolescent) sexual and reproductive health. It must be noted, however, that while political commitments have been made in many areas, there is little documented evidence of their effects. Nevertheless there is some evidence of commitments that have resulted in positive outcomes. These include:
- scaling up pilot projects
- changing legislation
- demonstrating commitment to global initiatives
- integrating youth friendly services into public health policy.
The paper also summarises the factors that have been involved in influencing each type of commitment, both domestically and by the international community, and presents an overview of various efforts currently being undertaken to influence change.
The ability of domestic actors to influence political commitment rests on a number of factors, including:
- the degree of cohesion among advocates and their ability to build consensus
- the presence of respected political champions
- providing evidence of the scale of the problem and its importance relative to competing priorities
- demonstrating clear, affordable policy options
- taking advantage of international partnerships, trends and resources.
Donors and other international actors have played a role in:
- establishing international norms and frameworks
- providing funding both for programmes and for advocacy
- providing technical expertise
- partnering with domestic actors for change.
Additionally, for both groups, it is important to be able to demonstrate clearly not only what works, but also what is affordable, both politically and financially.