Today, the United Nations Population Fund released its annual State of the World Population Report. The Report highlights some of the opportunities and challenges facing the world population, which in just 6 days, will reach 7 billion people. This Report is timely as the international community faces rising concerns related to our environmental sustainability, economic stability and social development. As we address these uncertainties, it is imperative that we consider that ½ of the world’s population is under the age of 25, and that the majority of these young people live in developing countries, where fertility rates are the highest. Similarly, this age group also has one of the highest new HIV infection rates, whereby young people account for 40% of new HIV infections, and 215 million young women lack access to contraceptives.
The Report highlights the reality that ½ of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are young women and girls, who need to be empowered with the right to make fundamental decisions about their lives. Providing young women and girls with decision-making power allows them to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies, STIs and HIV, stay in school, acquire meaningful employment, and contribute as active agents in their own, and their community’s development.
In order to ensure that all young people are empowered to make the best possible decisions regarding their futures, we need to act now. The generation of young people, as featured in this report, requires a commitment to the realization of our needs, and the protecting of our rights. We need to see laws and policies that ensure all young people have access to accurate, evidence-based and comprehensive sexuality education, in and out of school, and universal access to the full package of reproductive health services, that is affordable, confidential, reliable and non-discriminatory, including access to safe and legal abortion and a range of contraceptive options. Protecting and promoting the sexual and reproductive rights, especially those of young women and girls, makes sense.
Read the Report to find out more.