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MOSCOW – For the Russian Federation to reduce its high teenage pregnancy and abortion rates, adolescents need better access to information on how to protect themselves effectively from unwanted pregnancy, Werner Haug, the Director of UNFPA’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in Moscow today at an event to launch the State of the World Population Report 2013 and celebrate the completion of UNFPA’s work in the country.
The report, which this year focuses on adolescent pregnancy, ranks the Russian Federation just below the average teenage pregnancy rate for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, at 30 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 years (the regional average is 32).
“When a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future radically change, and rarely for the better,” Haug said. “All too often, the girl’s education will end, and her job prospects evaporate, while her vulnerabilities to poverty, health problems, social exclusion and dependency multiply.”
Over 60 per cent of adolescent girls in the Russian Federation have had sex by the age of 19, according to the Russian Federation’s first national Reproductive Health Survey, published earlier this year with UNFPA-support. At the same time, 70 per cent of adolescent girls felt they needed more information about how to protect themselves.
“Young people – both girls and boys – need access to accurate and age-appropriate information so that they can avoid unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and sexually transmitted infections,” Haug said: “There is solid evidence that better information helps teenagers delay their sexual debuts and make responsible decisions about their behaviours, leading to lower teenage birth, abortion and HIV infection rates.”
Abortion rates among adolescent girls have been on the decline, but are still at a high level, with eight abortions for every ten child births in the age group from 15 to 19, according to the Reproductive Health Survey.
Most women in the Russian Federation would like to see schools playing a role in providing information to adolescents. Almost 90 per cent of the over 10,000 women from all over the country who participated in the national reproductive health survey said they would favour schools to take on this task.
UNFPA is in the process of completing its work in the Russian Federation by year’s end, after 18 years of activities in the country. During this time, UNFPA has contributed to the development of a national population strategy and conducted a major nation-wide reproductive health survey. A number of programmes have helped limiting the spread of HIV, preventing risky behaviour among young people, and developing policies supportive of the elderly. UNFPA has worked with partners from the government, scientific institutions, national NGOs and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Related resources
State of World Population 2013 Report (available in English and Russian)