VP ad­vo­cates for teen girls on World Pop­u­la­tion Day

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

DAN­GERS fac­ing teenage girls should be mit­i­gated by pro­vid­ing them with ed­u­ca­tion, health ser­vices and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, Vice Pres­i­dent U Myint Swe said in a cer­e­mony to mark World Pop­u­la­tion Day in Nay Pyi Taw yes­ter­day.

In the cer­e­mony, he stressed prob­lems faced by teenage girls around the world. As many as 700 mil­lion women glob­ally were mar­ried be­fore they turned 18 years old, he said. In 2015 alone, about 15 mil­lion young girls were forced to marry, he added.

The 2016 World Pop­u­la­tion Day’s theme was in­vest­ing in teenage girls – urg­ing coun­tries to con­sider bet­ter ways to pro­vide them with ed­u­ca­tion, health and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties with gen­der equal­ity in mind.

Ev­ery year about 62 mil­lion girls can­not get ac­cess to school­ing and about 25 per­cent of girls in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries were forced to leave school be­fore com­plet­ing their pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion, U Myint Swe said.

Ev­ery day about 20,000 girls in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries be­tween the ages of 15 and 19 give birth, and about 3.2 mil­lion young girls of the same age range have unsafe abor­tions an­nu­ally, the vice pres­i­dent said. About 10pc of teenage girls un­der the age of 15 have suf­fered sex­ual abuse, he added.

“These facts threaten our fu­ture,” U Myint Swe said.

Janet Jack­son, the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in

‘Re­solv­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges that these 5 mil­lion girls face is a good in­vest­ment for the fu­ture of Myana­mar.’

U Myint Swe Vice pres­i­dent

Myan­mar, said if teenage girls are able to make their own de­ci­sions about mat­ters that are im­por­tant to them and are given ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, they can over­come the dif­fi­cul­ties to lead lives that are ben­e­fi­cial to them­selves, their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

“We see 15-year-old girls, or even younger girls, are vic­tims of half of the sex­ual abuse cases glob­ally,” she said. “If a teenage girl is un­able to make her own de­ci­sion on her ed­u­ca­tion, health, ca­reer and marriage, she won’t re­alise her abil­ity and she won’t be an im­por­tant as­set for the re­form­ing process of the coun­try.”

As Myan­mar un­der­goes po­lit­i­cal re­form, she said, it is fac­ing de­mo­graphic changes that could see its teen pop­u­la­tion reach a record high.

“For coun­tries which have a high pop­u­la­tion of teenage girls, it is very im­por­tant to draft poli­cies and in­vest in ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams and health ser­vices that will cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties and pro­mote their lives,” said the vice pres­i­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to Myan­mar’s 2014 cen­sus, there are about 5 mil­lion girls be­tween the ages of 10 and 19.

“Re­solv­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges these 5 mil­lion girls face is a good in­vest­ment for the fu­ture of Myan­mar,” said U Myint Swe.

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