World Population Day 2016 - Investing in teenage girls

13 July 2016
arajevo –Each year since 1990, UNFPA offices, governments and communities have observed the 11th of July as the World Population Day to raise awareness of important population and development issues. This year's theme is 'Investing in teenage girls'.

Teenage girls around the world face greater challenges than their male counterparts. In many countries, a girl who reaches puberty is deemed by her family and community as ready for marriage, pregnancy and childbirth. She may be married off and forced to leave school. Without education, in poor health, and with little or no control over her own body, her future can be derailed, and her potential may never be realized especially if she is a member of a vulnerable group, lives in a village or is from a poor household.

But when a teenage girl has the power, the means and the information to make her own decisions in life, she is more likely to realize her full potential and become a positive force for change in her home, community and nation.

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UNFPA stressed that the investments are needed to protect girls’ health, including their sexual and reproductive health, to enable them to receive a quality education and to expand economic opportunities, including those for decent work. He added that the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that countries committed to achieving is an unprecedented opportunity for teenage girls to claim their rights, realize their aspirations and transform our world.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has an estimated 4.5% of the girls between the ages of 13 and 19. It is imperative to empower them by protecting their human rights, including protection from early marriage, and promoting universal access to information and services, including sexual and reproductive health care. UNFPA provides the technical and financial support to the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to make strategic decisions that make investments in health and education of teenage girls and enable girls to get the services they need. Support for the development of youth policies, youth empowerment and engagement platforms, forum theater plays on prevention of early marriages and sensitization of health sector providers to the needs of the youth are some of the activities that UNFPA is promoting.

“Despite the gains made in providing health and education services to teenage girls in BiH, there is still much more to be done. The data shows an increase in births among adolescents from 8 per 1000 births to 11 per 1000 births.Teenage girls have to be empowered in order to make important life decisions and contribute to the social progress. Let us work together to ensure a life of security, dignity and opportunity for all”, said Dr. Doina Bologa, UNFPA Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Country Director for Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Director for Kosovo.