Today July 11th is World Population Day. The theme for this year's World Population Day - "Investing in teenage girls", seeks to bring our attention back to the fact that a lot more has to be done to ensure that every teenage girl enjoys a safe and successful transition into adulthood and into a future with many opportunities for success.
Today's teenage girl is tomorrow's adult mother and key family care-giver. Teenage girls around the world face several challenges that threaten their future and as it stands, the desired level of investment needed to create an enabling environment for them to have the bright future they deserve has yet to be reached.
According to the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin " When a teenage girl has the power, the means and the information to make her own decisions in life, she is more likely to overcome obstacles that stand between her and a healthy, productive future. This will benefit her, her family and her community. When she has no say in decisions about her education, health, work or even marital status, she may never realize her full potential or become a positive force for transformation in her home, community and nation.
Investments are needed to protect their health, including her sexual and reproductive health, to enable her to receive a quality education and to expand economic opportunities, including those for decent work. 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."
Teenage girls make up a significant proportion of the world's burgeoning youth population. Therefore, for countries to realize a demographic dividend, there's the need to combat child marriage and make policies in health and education that empower teenage girls as well the boys. Governments, the private sector, and people like you and I need to play important roles in making this a reality. As Katja Iversen (CEO of Women Deliver) rightly puts it, "Continuing to overlook teenage girls is to no one's benefit."
Lets all work together for the good of all teenage girls and all young people. Happy World Population Day!