OVER 13 million teenage girls around the world were subjected and forced by their families and communities into marriages annually. Development Communications, DevComs Network, disclosed this in a statement issued by its Team Leader, Abiodun Owo, to commemorate the world population day with the theme “Investing in teenage girls.” It also said 10 percent of girls have initiated sex before the age of 15 and about 3.2 million girls have gone through unsafe abortion which accounts for the second leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 is complication from pregnancy and child birth. DevComs however said the trend calls for investment and empowerment of the teenage girls to turn around the girl child’s misfortune and also speed up economic growth. According to the statement, “This year’s theme ‘Investing in Teenage Girls’ draws attention to the numerous challenges faced by teenage girls around the world who are forced by their families
and communities into marriage, with resultant early pregnancy and debilitating condition from childbirth. Many are forced to leave school, damaging their future prospects and denying them of their human rights. These challenges are worse among marginalized girls such as those from ethnic minorities or those from poor households. “Studies have found that around the world, 10 percent 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. About 37,000 child marriages take place each day. “When teenage girls are empowered, know their rights and are given the tools to succeed, they are more likely to realize their full potential and become positive force for change in their families, communities and nation. Policies and investments in education and health that empower teenage girls and create economic conditions that lead to jobs are particularly important in countries with large, emerging youth populations. Such countries stand to realize a demographic dividend, which has the potential to strengthen and speed up economic growth,” it said. The statement added that, “The population of the world continues to grow in spite of the socio-economic turns of poverty, unemployment, and pollution. There are concerns that this population explosion needs to be checked as it poses even more danger to mankind. The World Population Day is an annual day observed around the world to bring awareness about population growth, and focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. It also focuses on challenges presented by the world of 7.02 billion people. With the continuous rapid growth in the last 200 years, it has become very important for people on earth to realize and act on healthier lives and importance of small families.” The statement equally quoted that “UNFPA Executive Director,
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin says, “Leaders and communities must focus on and stand up for the human rights of the most marginalized teenage girls, particularly those who are poor, out of school, exploited, or subjected to harmful traditional practices, including child marriage. Marginalized girls are vulnerable to poor reproductive health and more likely to become mothers while still children themselves. They have a right to understand and control their own bodies and shape their own lives.” “Policymakers play an important role in ensuring that human rights are universal and thus enjoyed by all, including teenage girls, who worldwide face obstacles to their rights to education, health and freedom from violence. Communities, non-governmental organizations, youth-led groups, activists, faith-based institutions and girls themselves also have a vital role to play in shaping policies that affect their lives and in making sure that these policies are translated into real, positive transformation,” the statement however reads.


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