On World Population Day, Here’s How We Can Empower Teenage Girls

On World Population Day, Here’s How We Can Empower Teenage Girls

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In 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that 11 July be observed internationally as World Population Day. A day to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. Since 2003, every World Population Day has been assigned a theme. This year the theme is ‘investing in teenage girls.’

Why Focus on Teenage Girls?

Teenage girls around the world face enormous challenges. They are forced to leave school and the pressure by their community or their family to marry or become a mother damage their future prospects.

Even among girls who stay in school, access to basic information about health, human rights and reproductive rights is hard to come by. This leaves them vulnerable to illness, injury and exploitation. These challenges are exacerbated among girls from marginalised communities, such as members of ethnic minorities or those living in poverty or in remote areas.

Yet when teenage girls are empowered, know their rights and are given the tools to succeed; they become agents of positive change in their communities.

UNFPA’s programs aim to end child marriage, curb adolescent pregnancy and to empower girls to make informed choices about their lives. In 2015 alone, UNFPA programs helped 11.2 million girls between ages 10 to 19 obtain access to sexual and reproductive health services and information.

 Schoolgirls wade through a water logged street after heavy rains in Mirzapur in early July. 
Schoolgirls wade through a water logged street after heavy rains in Mirzapur in early July. 
(Photo: PTI)
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.
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director

What Have The Previous Themes Been About?

Snapshotclose

  • 2015 - Vulnerable populations in emergencies
  • 2014 - Investing in Young People
  • 2013 - Focus on Adolescent Pregnancy
  • 2012 - Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services
  • 2011 - 7 Billion Actions
  • 2010 - Be Counted: Say What You Need
  • 2009 - Fight Poverty: Educate Girls
  • 2008 - Plan Your Family, Plan Your Future
  • 2007 - Men at Work
  • 2006 - Being Young is Tough
  • 2005 - Equality Empowers
  • 2004 - ICPD at 10
  • 2003 - 1,000,000,000 adolescents
Several campaigns have been carried out to sensitise people about women’s rights. Actor Jacqueline Fernandez was seen in the #WhatIReallyReallyWant film – a remake of the hugely popular Spice Girls video – in support of the Global Goals campaign for women and girls.
Several campaigns have been carried out to sensitise people about women’s rights. Actor Jacqueline Fernandez was seen in the #WhatIReallyReallyWant film – a remake of the hugely popular Spice Girls video – in support of the Global Goals campaign for women and girls.
(Photo: Screengrab)

Population Explosion

  • In 1 AD, the human population on Earth was 200 million.
  • In 1804, in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, this number passed one billion.
  • In 2011, just over 200 years later, the population soared to seven billion.
  • And today, we are over 7.45 billion humans on this planet.

The clock below is a real-time countdown of the population in the world as of this moment.

The planet and its resources are finite. But if men, women, and children are empowered with health, human rights, and information about the environment – population dynamics will change, improving the health and prosperity of people, families, and the earth.

(With inputs from Un.org)

Video Editor: Prashant Bhardwaj

(This video was first published on 10 July 2016 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark World Population Day.)

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