News / Asia

UN: Youth Must Have a Voice

FILE - Malala Yousafzai.
FILE - Malala Yousafzai.
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations warns that governments are ignoring the voices of young people and excluding them from important policy decisions at their peril. As nations mark World Population Day on July 11, the U.N. Population Fund says investing in the well-being of adolescents and young people benefits communities throughout the world.

Young people comprise nearly two billion of the more than seven billion people who now live on this Earth. Such a large number of people is a powerful force and cannot easily be ignored. Nevertheless, adolescents and young people are marginalized and subject to some of the worst violations and deprivations in many countries.

Urban and Rural PopulationsUrban and Rural Populations
x
Urban and Rural Populations
Urban and Rural Populations

The U.N. Population Fund reports an estimated 515 million adolescents and youth aged 15 to 24 live on less than $2 a day. But despite the numbers it notes two out of three countries do not consult young people on key policy decisions that affect their lives.

The agency says young people face many challenges, especially in poor developing countries in Africa and Asia, where the young population is huge.  Obstetrician and senior advisor for maternal health at UNFPA Luc de Bernis said millions of young people who enter puberty are faced with physical changes and become vulnerable to human rights abuses as well.

“This is particularly important where the youth and adolescent, particularly girls are facing high risks-risks of coerced sex and, we know that 10 percent of the young girls, which started the intercourse experiences before 16-it is due to coerced sex and this is leading to complications to early pregnancy, to abortions,” said de Bernis. 

Globally, U.N. statistics find, more than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth every year. The U.N. says early marriages, early pregnancies and births account for the high percentage of maternal deaths in developing countries. 

In addition, studies show more than two million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are living with HIV, a disease linked to coerced sex in such cases.

De Bernis told VOA it is tragic that young girls are forced to face so many unacceptable risks.

“It took me years working in developing countries to understand, to realize that when you are a small girl, a young girl, you have no place where you can be safe. You cannot be safe very often in the family, unfortunately. You cannot be safe in the street. You cannot be safe at school when girls are not respected, when there is no toilet, where there is no space and where the violence is,” said de Bernis. 

De Bernis said healthy, educated, productive young people can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and can contribute to their communities and nations. He said UNFPA is working with governments and with civil society to promote comprehensive sexuality education as well as quality sexual and reproductive health services.

He also said the agency is working with traditional leaders to try to change their perception of young people and to get their support in banning early marriage and improving young lives.

He thinks the old adage that “children should be seen and not heard” is twisted.  On the contrary, he said, governments would do well to listen to the voices of young people, to respect them and to realize how all can benefit from the contributions youths can make to their country’s development.  

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid