Thursday, January 8, 2015

Situation of adolescent girls

There are over 500 million adolescent girls currently living in developing countries. “Young people are the fastest growing segment of the population in both poor and middle income developing countries, and their welfare is fundamental to achieving key economic and social objectives - including a competitive labour force, sustained economic growth, improved governance, and vibrant civil societies. Yet adolescent girls in developing countries face systematic disadvantagesaccording to a wide range of indicators, including health, education, nutrition, labour force  participation, and the burden of household tasks”2
Each year, 1 in 3 girls in developing countries, an estimated 14.2 million, are married before the age of 18. 1in 9 girls are married before the age of 153. While marriage would normally be the occasion to celebrate the union of two people, for millions of girls, marriage is anything but a reason for celebration. It is a human rights violation that denies girls their childhood.
Every year in developing countries, 7.3 million girls under the age of 18 give birth. Babies born to adolescent mothers account for roughly 11% of all births worldwide, with 95% occurring in developing countries. For some of these young women, pregnancy and childbirth are planned and wanted, but for many others they are not. Childbirth at an early age is associated with greater health risks for the mother. In low- and middle-income countries, complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15–19 years.4
The Secretary General’s report on the girl child highlighted in 2011 that girls are barred from the, bound by social norms that contravene their rights, endanger their health and limit their opportunities. Nearly 36 million girls at the primary level and over 39 million girls at the lower secondary level remain out of school.5

Supporting girls and young women to stay in school, preventing pregnancy and marriage in childhood, building capital assets and promoting employment in the formal sector are critical actions for governments to ensure the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights and help them to become healthy and productive members of society.6
In many poor countries, investment in girls is small in comparison to their potential contribution to global goals in public health and education, to social stability and to economic growth. Yet less than two cents every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl7 .
Adolescence is not only a time of great vulnerability, especially for adolescent girls, but also a time of great opportunity, a highly adaptive stage in human development, when girls develop heightened creativity and interest in social engagement. By ensuring that adolescent girls are equipped with the agency, knowledge and skills they will need, girl-centered programmes can contribute to young people’s and governments’ efforts to break inter-generational poverty, illiteracy, ill health, and gender inequality.

2 Girls Count. 2010. A Global Investment & Action Agenda, Coalition for Adolescent Girls
3 UNFPA. 2012. Marrying too young: End child marriage. New York.
4 WHO. 2011. WHO guidelines on preventing early pregnancy and poor reproductive health outcomes among adolescents in
developing countries. Geneva
5 Secretary General of the United Nations. 2011. Report on the Girl Child . New York
6 World Bank. 2009. Adolescent Girls’ Initiative: Alliance for Economic Empowerment. Washington
7 The Girl Effect,

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