'The State of the World's Children 2011'
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 25 February 2011 – Young people are the key to a more equitable and prosperous world, according to UNCEF’s new flagship report, ‘The State of the World’s Children 2011 – Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity,’ launched today at UN headquarters in New York.
VIDEO: 25 February 2011 - UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the launch of UNICEF's flagship publication,‘The State of the World’s Children 2011 – Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity,’ at UN headquarters in New York.
The report says that investing in the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents – those who are between the ages of 10 and 19 – can break entrenched cycles of poverty.
“We need to focus more attention now on reaching adolescents, especially adolescent girls, investing in education, health and other measures to engage them in the process of improving their own lives,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
Need to reach older children
While the international community has made tremendous gains in improving the health and well-being of children under 10, the SOWC report emphasizes that less progress has been made in reaching older children.
The vast majority of these adolescents live in developing countries. Their numbers are rapidly growing, and the challenges they face are formidable:
- Almost half the world’s adolescents of secondary school-age don’t go to secondary school; they are vulnerable to trafficking and recruitment into armed groups
- About 150 million young people between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour
- More than 70 million girls and women have undergone genital cutting, which usually occurs by the onset puberty.
“These outrageous statistics don’t even begin to cover the countless numbers of adolescents who are denied adequate nutrition, who lack access to basic health services and care, who become mothers in childhood, at great risk to their lives,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Hilde Johnson, who launched the report at a press conference, together with a panel of experts.
Girls are the most overlooked
SOWC also finds that girls are often the most overlooked, even as they have the most potential to pass wealth and well-being on to their children.
“Two cents of every development dollar goes to adolescent girls globally. That makes me think that we as a community can do better,” said UN Foundation Executive Director for Women and Population Tamara Kreinin.
The report indicates that not only is it right to meet the challenges that adolescents face and give them the opportunity to participate in their societies, but it makes economic sense, as well.
“It is also the smart thing to do, enabling us to consolidate our historic gains in early childhood and child survival, and to accelerate progress,” said Ms. Johnson. “Breaking the cycle of poverty, breaking the cycle of discrimination, breaking the cycle of inequity – the choice is ours to make.”