UNFPA and UNICEF strengthen efforts to promote comprehensive development, protection and empowerment of girls and adolescent girls in Latin America and the Caribbean

The joint agenda will promote initiatives aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and strengthening protection systems with specialized services for children and adolescents

17 May 2024
Los representantes de UNICEF y UNFPA muestran el acuerdo de colaboración que firmaron.

Panama City, Panama, 17 May 2024. The Regional Offices of UNFPA and UNICEF have signed a cooperation agreement aimed at contributing to the realization of the rights of children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean. The joint initiatives seek to contribute to the targets of the 2030 Agenda, including reducing the maternal and neonatal mortality rate, curbing the transmission of communicable diseases such as HIV, promoting universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, promoting gender equality, and protecting children and adolescents from abuse, exploitation, trafficking and violence.

One in five girls in Latin America and the Caribbean marries or enters an early union before the age of 18, making it the only region in the world where child marriages have not decreased in the last 25 years. At the same time, the region ranks second globally for teenage pregnancies.[1] In addition to these challenges, girls, adolescent girls and women also face the scourge of violence. It is estimated that two in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been victims of violence in different areas of their lives.[2]

In response to the delay in addressing these key issues impacting the comprehensive development of girls and adolescent girls, UNFPA and UNICEF will focus their joint advocacy work on pushing for legal and policy reforms to address teenage pregnancy (including access to comprehensive protection systems with specialized sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents) and the legal age of marriage. The organizations will also pool their efforts to help prevent violence, in particular violence against girls and adolescent girls, by means of generating data and evidence to influence public policy and strengthening the institutions of the countries to enable them to protect children and adolescents.

"Adolescent fertility rates and levels of gender-based violence and mortality during childbirth are manifestations of inequality that have a significant impact on people's lives and development in our region," said Susana Sottoli, UNFPA Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. She added that "this partnership will allow us to step up our efforts, involve more strategic partners, work in a coordinated manner and maximize impacts to assist countries with formulating public policies that prioritize women and girls, including strengthening statistical visibility to enable us to address the disparities and needs of specific groups."

Garry Conille, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that "this year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Undoubtedly, empowering girls and adolescent girls is key not only in terms of moving closer to the realization of all their rights, but also when it comes to breaking the cycle of inequality, discrimination and violence throughout the region." Conille added that "it is necessary to have robust and comprehensive protection systems that provide specialized services for child and adolescent well-being. We will work with UNFPA to optimize resources, with a view to providing more opportunities for children and adolescents."

Regional in scope, the collaboration agreement will also promote the transformation of gender social norms and the generation of positive forms of masculinity in advertising, recognizing the influence that this has on preventing violence against girls, adolescent girls and women.

[1] es-perfilregionaligualdadgenero-alc_26marzo24.pdf (unwomen.org)

[2] es-perfilregionaligualdadgenero-alc_26marzo24.pdf (unwomen.org)

Media contacts

Sendai Zea
Communication Specialist (Emergencies)
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843


UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.   

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/lac/en.

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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is the lead United Nations agency helping to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

Additionally, it has organized its work around three transformative and people-centred results: ending unmet need for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths and ending gender-based violence and all harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage.

For more information about UNFPA and its work, please visit lac.unfpa.org.

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