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World Population Day 2016 – Investing in Teenage Girls

Today is being observed as World Population Day; a celebration that was recommended in 1989 by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme.  It is a day set aside to highlight issues of the world’s population and one that carries a different theme each year.  For 2016, the issue being focused on is that of teenage girls and their challenges when their parents or communities deem them fit for marriage and motherhood at a young age.  Other issues being looked at are their limited or non-access to information on health, human rights and reproductive rights which leaves them vulnerable to illness and or exploitation.  In the message by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, he wrote, quote, “Just when girls should be in school and imagining the possibilities ahead, too many are held back from pursuing their ambitions by social and cultural traps. While a boy’s options and opportunities tend to expand when he becomes an adolescent, those of a girl too often shrink. Half of all sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls aged 15 or younger. In developing countries, one in three girls is married before she reaches 18 and teenage girls are less likely than teenage boys to start or finish secondary school. Rectifying these inequalities is critical for the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That is why it includes the specific Goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. On this World Population Day, I urge all Governments, businesses and civil society to support and invest in teenage girls. Everyone deserves the benefits of economic growth and social progress. Let us work together to ensure a life of security, dignity and opportunity for all.  This year’s theme is ‘Investing in Teenage Girls.”