The term abortion refers to the termination of a pregnancy; this can either be induced purposefully or occur spontaneously (usually referred to as a miscarriage). In this definition we will only address induced abortions. Induced abortions can be performed either safely or unsafely, legally or illegally, using a variety of methods depending on the gestational age of the embryo/fetus, legal barriers, and resources available. Safe abortions are always performed by skilled and trained professionals in a formal medical setting (sterilized etc.) with modern equipment and medicine. In contrast, unsafe abortions are performed by unskilled individuals, using hazardous and non-sterile equipment or chemicals, often in unsanitary facilities. In addition, it is also important to distinguish between legal and illegal abortions. There are (still) a few countries in the world today where abortion is completely illegal, and some countries only legally allow abortion in restricted cases such as rape, incest or danger to the life of the pregnant person. At the same time, there are also countries where abortion is legal but not always accessible due to social/legal/economic barriers (e.g. long wait periods or high costs) so that for many people having an unsafe abortion is their only option.
CHOICE supports universal access to safe and legal abortions, without barriers imposed by law, policies and service provision, and free of stigma and discrimination. In cases where abortion is not available by law, people should still have access to confidential high-quality and modern post-abortion care without having to face any legal consequences.
Abstain-Be Faithful-use a Condom (ABC)
Abstain, Be faithful, use a Condom, also known as the ABC model, abstinence-plus sex education, and abstinence-based sex education, is a form of sexuality education which builds on the abstinence-only model by recognizing that many (young) people do have sex outside of marriage. It also contains information about sexual and reproductive health. ABC still teaches abstinence as the best way of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STI’s (A), and stresses having only a single long-term sexual partner (B), but also includes information on safer sex practices (C). For this reason it is often seen as a compromise between abstinence-only education and comprehensive sexuality education. ABC programs can include issues of human relationships, the basic biology of human reproduction, safer sex practices and contraceptives, HIV/AIDS information, and masturbation.
Abstinence is a conscious decision to avoid certain activities or behaviors. Different people have different definitions of what sexual abstinence entails. For some, it may mean no sexual contact, including masturbation. For others, it may mean no penetration (oral, anal, vaginal), while kissing, caressing and other forms of sexual play are acceptable.
Abstinence-only is a form of sexuality education which emphasizes sexual abstinence outside of marriage as the only way to prevent STI’s and unwanted pregnancies. It often excludes other types of sexual and reproductive health education, such as providing information about contraceptives or safer sex practices. Abstinence-only programs have been found to be ineffective in decreasing rates of HIV infection and unplanned pregnancy.
Accountability means ensuring that people are held responsible for what they say and do. In terms of advocacy, civil society can and should play an important role in holding their governments accountable to the agreements they make by ensuring that governments turn their commitments into concrete action, and monitoring and evaluating their progress in this.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines adolescence as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood. CHOICE uses this term to talk about young people aged 10 to 19. Different organizations may use alternate age ranges, for example, 12 to 18 or 13 to 19.
Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) are the SRHR of adolescents. Just like SRHR, ASRHR covers a wide range of issues, from maternal mortality and access to contraceptives, to menstrual cycles and child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU). Unfortunately ASRHR remains a highly controversial and difficult topic to discuss, as many adults feel uncomfortable with the idea of young (unmarried) people being sexually active.
There are many different ways to define advocacy. Put simply, advocacy is a way of influencing a process or outcome so that it reflects your priorities. Advocacy can be done by an individual or in a group, it can be grassroots or large-scale, and can be applied to many different areas (e.g. international processes, national laws and policies, a school board). Advocacy usually targets decision-makers, like politicians or heads of organizations. It can, however, also be used to gain support more generally (like a public movement or campaign).
African Youth Charter
The African Youth Charter is a framework developed by the African Union in 2006 to guide all of its member states. It addresses key issues that young people face across Africa, including (un)employment, sustainable livelihoods, education, skills development, health, youth participation, national youth policy, peace and security, law enforcement, youth in the Diaspora, and youth living with disabilities. The Charter calls on governments to ensure the freedom of movement, expression, private life, and property of young people. The Charter defines youth as people between the ages of 15 to 35 years.
In the context of the United Nations (UN), Agreed Conclusions are the main outcome documents from a particular UN process, such as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) or the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Agreed Conclusions can be on a variety of different issues (SRHR, but also on how a Commission will work in future) and are negotiated and agreed upon by all UN member states in attendance. Many advocates attend commissions like the CSW or the CPD to influence the Agreed Conclusions to reflect their priorities.
In the context of the United Nations (UN), Agreed Language is the language that was agreed upon in an outcome document (for example, the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) in a specific year). Agreed Language is important because it is language that was negotiated and that Member States have endorsed, and can therefore be used to hold governments accountable to the commitments that they have made. Agreed Language is therefore often an important focus in UN advocacy.
An ally is someone who supports a cause, even if they are not directly affected by it themselves. This term is used frequently in the LGBTQIA+ community to refer to a person who does not necessarily identify as LGBTQIA+ themselves, but who works together professionally and/or personally to support the LGBTQIA+ movement and to fight against oppression and discrimination.
A person who identifies as asexual does not experience sexual attraction. They may, however, experience different kinds of attraction (romantic, aesthetic etc.). It is important to note that asexuality is not the same as abstinence or celibacy (these are choices people make regardless of their sexual attraction) - and that people who identify as asexual can and do sometimes engage in sexual activities! It also doesn't mean that someone who is asexual cannot enjoy sex, many do, they simply do not experience a sexual attraction. Furthermore, asexual people who experience attraction may be attracted to a particular gender and/or gender expression, and might also identify as heterosexual, lesbian etc.
Assigned but informed
In the CHOICE Flower of Participation, assigned but informed is a situation where (young) people are assigned a specific role and are informed on how and why they are involved in a program or project. This is not considered very meaningful participation as young people have very little ownership and decision-making power.
The following types of attraction can be experienced separately, in combination, or not at all:
(i) aesthetic attraction: the attraction to someone's appearance
(ii) romantic attraction: wanting to be romantically involved with someone,
(iii) sensual attraction: desire to have physical, non-sexual contact with someone,
(iv) sexual attraction: wanting to have sexual contact with someone.