An African Union (AU) Assembly decision in January 2016 established the theme for 2017 as “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in Youth.” AU heads of state and government recognize a country-level demographic dividend as central to the continent’s economic transformation in the context of AU Agenda 2063—the AU’s global strategy for socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.
A demographic dividend can occur during a window of opportunity created by reductions in child mortality and a demographic shift to fewer dependent people relative to working-age individuals. The full realization of the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of adolescents and youth (ages 10 to 24) can facilitate gains in their health, well-being, and educational attainment. Long-term investments in the health of adolescents and youth, including in their sexual and reproductive health, can help accelerate economic growth when combined with the appropriate investments in education and economic planning.
This report lays out the importance of youth SRHR to a demographic dividend and points to key investments that can protect and improve SRHR for adolescents and youth.