THE BUBBLING life, youthful zeal, entrepreneurial capabilities and exuberances are all that make the young people versatile and vivacious.
It is no wonder this class of people have been captured by world demography as the most vulnerable yet veritable group that can be used to achieve a desired change in the 21st century.
Thus, as nations of the world plan programmes towards consolidating the gains of the millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the need to fully utilise the energy of the adolescent girl-child is being canvassed.
Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNFPA), Dr Babatunde Osotimehin in a clarion call at the weekend in New York pleaded with governments to prioritise investing in the education and healthcare especially of reproductive health of young girls as a means of safeguarding the achievement of SDGs.
This call by the UN Director is coming on the heels of the recently held inaugural Summit on Accountability Now: Advancing Reproductive, maternal, Newborn, Children and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) which took place in Abuja.
According to Osotimehin, in spite of several advances by countries of the world in recent past, girls continue to suffer from discrimination and exclusion just because they are young and female.
Osotimehin observed, “For many girls, puberty marks an accelerating trajectory into inequality and investing in adolescent girls can help boost their potential and achieve gender equality and progress for societies at large”.
The UN boss noted that investing specially in education and health, including sexual and reproductive health—will promote sustainable development for all of humanity. The event featured representatives of governments and international organizations, as well as experts and young people from around the world.
During the Reproductive Health Summit on Accountability Now, participants called on governments at all levels in the country to prioritize girl-child education because of its direct relationship with reduction of maternal mortality.
They equally urged for scaled up investment in maternal health (mhealth)interventions targeting adolescents and youths; create or scale up innovative mobile phone/web based including social media platforms enhancing access to reproductive health and rights information and services especially targeting women and youths.
The Summit also want government to always involve young people in all health programmes that concern them.
Osotimehin added, “When girls are free to define their lives and enjoy their rights, they not only enjoy better health and healthier children; they are also better able to contribute to national development as economic actors and entrepreneurs, helping their countries reap the demographic dividend and driving economic growth”.
He warned that the success of the new agenda,“will be measured in how well we are collectively able to build a world in which girls have no limits on their aspirations for the future,” no matter where they are born.
According to the UNFPA data, many of the 600 million adolescent girls in the world face daily discrimination and rights violations. Too often, they are taken out of school, married off and pressured to bear children before they are ready, risking their health, their lives and their futures.
UNFPA recognises and advocates investments in the health, education and employment of young people, particularly adolescent girls, as part of the most cost-effective development expenditures.
Experts say, an extra year of girls’ education can cut infant death by up to 10 per cent. Secondary education is singularly effective in delaying the age at which a young woman first gives birth, and each year of secondary schooling increases girls’ future wages by up to 20 per cent. When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 per cent of it into their families.