Taken from the UN Populations Funds website
Today is World Population Day, a day that calls attention on urgent population issues. This World Population Day spotlights the need to invest in teenage girls.
Despite strides the world has made towards gender equality, teenage girls remain extremely vulnerable. Too many girls continue to see their rights abridged and prospects diminished by discrimination, exploitation and poverty.
“In some parts of the world, a girl who reaches puberty is deemed by her family or community as ready for marriage, pregnancy and childbirth. She may be married off and forced to leave school,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Yet teenage girls have enormous potential. When their rights are fulfilled, they enrich the world in vast and immeasurable ways. When they are valued and supported, they are healthier and more likely to emerge from poverty. They contribute to their communities and economies. Their efforts, ideas and imaginations are unleashed.
These six statistics show why investing in teenage girls is absolutely critical – not only for girls, but for the world:
- There are more young people today than at any other time in human history.
- About nine out of ten of these young people live in less developed countries
- And half of these young people face alarming vulnerabilities – because they are girls.
- In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18.
- Child marriage is often followed by pregnancy, even if a girl is not yet physically or mentally ready.
- But the solution to ending these human rights abuses is known: Empower girls.
Since 1999, the number of countries with severe gender disparities in primary education has been cut by more than half. But girls continue to lag behind in secondary education: By 2012, out of all countries with data available, 63 per cent had yet to achieve gender parity in secondary school enrolment.
Much more must be done to protect teenage girls’ rights, and to ensure they have access to the same opportunities as boys.
“A teenage girl whose rights are respected and who is able to realize her full potential is a girl who is more likely to contribute to the economic and social progress of her community and nation.” said Dr. Osotimehin.