Updated: Sep 17
Fight for Rights from Teens Around the World
The past is filled with many notable activists that set the foundation for the present, but it is in the hands of the youth to create a secure future for all those that seek a right to choose. Throughout the decades, there were different stances on the topic of reproductive rights fought by groups from a variety of backgrounds and ages. Originally, reproductive rights focused on people being able to decide what to do with their bodies when it comes to childbearing, and whether they plan to proceed with the process or not. In addition, it also protects the human right to choose their sexuality, control gender, and reproduce. However, this movement sparked outrage, many did not agree with ideas such as abortions, or any other methods of contraception which has led to a long battle between the government and working-class women. Earlier in the 20th century, working-class women led the fight for their reproductive rights, but now in the 21st century, the younger generations are advocating with their voices.
A Brief History
The start of the movement was organized by African Americans, specifically, African American women. Activists such as Anela Davis, Paul Gilldings, Dorothy Roberts, and more, published books that recall the struggles of Black women, and their reproductive rights against social and economic politics. As early as June 1914, Woman Rebel magazine criticized the Comstock laws that were meant to prohibit taking or using birth control. This ignited a movement from working-class women and started to gain public attention for their disagreement with the new law. Later on, Roe v. Wade, a monumental court case originating in the 1970s, constitutionally defended abortion rights for women which was recently overturned in 2022. It is important to spread awareness of the significance of reproductive rights through younger communities to prevent future laws from restricting their rights. The younger generations determine the future because they are the ones who will live in the future, without initiation for change, the government will not make the steps to codify this right.
The current Reproductive Justice Movement led by youth, has made significant alterations to sex education in high schools. For example, a group of alumni from a high school in Minnesota lobbied their school to improve their sex-education courses in order to be more LGBTQ+ inclusive. The students thought that reproductive health is crucial to learn in order to understand this complex idea of stressors impacting the world such as abortion and reproductive health. Not only are the youth getting motivated by the Reproductive Justice Movement and taking action on their own, but they are taking approaches that are specific to their lives such as introducing the topic within schools. Schools are where the youth spend most of their time and create a great impression on youth, so it is vital that schools acknowledge the topic instead of letting youth navigate it on their own.
Ultimately, the youth has stepped up to advocate for emotional care through the movement. Examples include one-on-one care with those who are pursuing an abortion and even organizations that focus on legalized and financial access to abortions. It goes to show how the youth is very hands-on when it comes to the Reproductive Justice Movement and not only spreading awareness but actually taking actions to try to educate others as well as comfort those whose reproductive rights are at risk.
Whether that be through advocating for new lesson plans in their schools or starting up organizations, youth are at the head of the movement. Many participate in rallies and create Instagram pages to advocate, just as the students from Indiana University came together to show their support for reproductive rights. Overall the resources the youth have are limitless, and the youth are not only ambitious, but they are strongly passionate about their views. Soon youth will assume government roles creating a more open-minded society by adjusting reproductive laws to accommodate what generations after generations have been fighting for.
America isn’t the only country that struggles with reproductive justice, so do countries all over the world. The Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR), is an organization of people from the age of fifteen to twenty-nine to make sure the rights of adolescents are given. In Bolivia, a youth-led organization called Plurinational Direction on Youth made a national plan to help prevent teen pregnancy. On the other hand, in Pakistan, the country struggles for health institutes and education, and employment for transgender people. Unfortunately, it is difficult to create programs that strive to reform these issues, but it is still significant to address the problems in Pakistan. In addition, in South Africa, the youth are limited to progressive rights. For example, young women tend to be prevented from going to clinics to undergo abortion, as well as their being stigmatized towards LGBTQA+ communities. As a result, the youth are subjected to hate crimes and even death. Nevertheless, youth-led organizations such as Africa Unite, ACTIVATE!, and Change Drivers are targeted to exercise and educate the rights of adolescents. It is up to the youth to use their voices to help make a change and advocate for reforms toward reproductive rights all over the world.
Lehrer-Small, A. (n.d.). Awakened By SCOTUS Ruling, Young People Join Push For Reproductive Rights. Retrieved February 5,2023,from https://www.the74million.org/article/awakened-by-scotus-ruling-young-people-joining-rally-for-reproductive-rights/
Pollard, A. (2021, August 5). The New Pro-Abortion Generation. The American Prospect. https://prospect.org/justice/the-new-pro-abortion-generation/
Toni M. Bond. (2008). Barriers Between Black Women & The Reproductive Rights Movement [Review of Barriers Between Black Women & The Reproductive Rights Movement]. Https://Www.law.berkeley.edu/; https://www.law.berkeley.edu/php-programs/centers/crrj/zotero/loadfile.php?entity_key=E266XDC7
Young people need their sexual and reproductive health and rights. (n.d.). OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/en/stories/2021/05/young-people-need-their-sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights