United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has tasked community leaders across the globe to 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 and child marriage.
The charge was given by UNFPA executive director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, in a statement to mark the 2016 World Population Day, with the theme “Investing in teenage girls”.
While submitting that this year’s theme drew attention to the numerous challenges faced by teenage girls around the world who were forced by their families and communities into marriage, with resultant early pregnancy and debilitating condition from childbirth, the UNFPA executive director lamented that many of the children were forced to leave school, damaging their future prospects and denying them of their human rights.
“Studies have found that around the world, 10 per cent 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, as about 37,000 child marriages take place each day”, he said .
While suggesting that policies and investments in education and health that would empower teenage girls and create economic conditions that led to jobs, were particularly important in countries with large emerging youths population, Osotimehin said teenage girls, when empowered, knew their rights and given the tools to succeed, were more likely to realise their full potential.