Adolescent health and development are key foundations for a country's economic development and political stability. The outcomes of adolescent health are closely linked with future adult development, infant and child mortality, maternal morbidity and mortality, and even long-term economic development. Adolescents and youth in West and Central Africa (WCA) face considerable challenges in terms of their health, education, employment and empowerment. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable. The region has some of the highest child marriage rates in the world with two out of five young girls married before the age of 18 years. It is also the region with the largest percentage (28 per cent) of women between the ages of 20 and 24 years who reported a birth before the age of 18 years as well as the largest percentage (6 per cent) of reported births before the age of 15 years. One of the key factors determining the life of an adolescent in the region is the policy and legal environment they live in. Policies and laws can act as either a protective factor or a significant barrier to the protection, health, education and employment of young people. The report reviews the legal and policy frameworks impacting adolescents and youth in five countries in West Africa.
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