17 February 2017, Addis Ababa: 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 states and governments 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.
Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. SRHR are defined as fundamental entitlements to have control over and make informed decisions on all matters related to SRH free from coercion, violence, and discrimination.