In­vest­ing in teenage girls cru­cial to de­vel­op­ment

Daily Trust - - JOBS & CAREERS - By Ruby Leo

As the world cel­e­brates the pop­u­la­tion day, calls have gone to the United Na­tions for mem­ber states to in­vest heav­ily in the wel­fare of teenage girls.

In a re­lease, the De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Net­work (Dev­com) stated that de­spite the so­cio-eco­nomic turns of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and pol­lu­tion, the pop­u­la­tion of the world con­tin­ues to grow.

The World Pop­u­la­tion Day is an an­nual day ob­served around the world to bring aware­ness about pop­u­la­tion growth, and fo­cus at­ten­tion on the ur­gency and im­por­tance of pop­u­la­tion is­sues. It also fo­cuses on chal­lenges pre­sented by the world of 7.02 bil­lion peo­ple. With the con­tin­u­ous rapid growth in the last 200 years, it has be­come very im­por­tant for peo­ple on earth to re­al­ize and act on health­ier lives and the im­por­tance of small fam­i­lies.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund (UNFPA) Dr. Ba­batunde Oso­time­hin, said, “Lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ties must fo­cus on and stand up for the hu­man rights of the most marginalised teenage girls, par­tic­u­larly those who are poor, out of school, ex­ploited, or sub­jected to harm­ful tra­di­tional prac­tices, in­clud­ing child mar­riage. Marginalised girls are vul­ner­a­ble to poor re­pro­duc­tive health and more likely to be­come moth­ers while still chil­dren them­selves. They have a right to un­der­stand and con­trol their own bod­ies and shape their own lives.”

He ad­vised pol­i­cy­mak­ers to play an im­por­tant role in en­sur­ing that hu­man rights are univer­sal and thus en­joyed by all, in­clud­ing teenage girls, who world­wide face ob­sta­cles to their rights to ed­u­ca­tion, health and free­dom from vi­o­lence.

He said non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, youth-led groups, ac­tivists, faith-based in­sti­tu­tions and girls them­selves also have a vi­tal role to play in shap­ing poli­cies that af­fect their lives and in mak­ing sure that th­ese poli­cies are trans­lated into real, pos­i­tive trans­for­ma­tion.

This year’s theme, ‘In­vest­ing in Teenage Girls’, draws at­ten­tion to the nu­mer­ous chal­lenges faced by teenage girls around the world who are forced by their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties into mar­riage, with re­sul­tant early preg­nancy and de­bil­i­tat­ing con­di­tion from child­birth. Many are forced to leave school, dam­ag­ing their fu­ture prospects and deny­ing them of their hu­man rights.

Th­ese chal­lenges are worse among marginalised girls such as those from eth­nic mi­nori­ties or those from poor house­holds.

Stud­ies have found that around the world, 10 per­cent of girls have ini­ti­ated sex be­fore the age of 15, about 3.2 mil­lion girls have gone through un­safe abor­tion, and the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death among girls be­tween the ages of 15 and 19 is com­pli­ca­tion from preg­nancy and child birth.

De­spite pro­hi­bi­tions, child mar­riage re­mains wide­spread around the world. About 37,000 child mar­riages take place each day.

When teenage girls are em­pow­ered, know their rights and are given the tools to suc­ceed, they are more likely to re­alise their full po­ten­tial and be­come a pos­i­tive force for change in their fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties and na­tion.

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