HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam is recording the highest proportion of young people in its history, with people between the ages of ten and 24 represent nearly 40 per cent of the total population.
This was one of the findings of The State of World Population 2016, released yesterday in Hà Nội by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Centre for Youth and Adolescents of the Việt Nam Youth Union.
The so-called “demographic window of opportunity” presents Việt Nam with a unique opportunity in its history to make this golden period the driver for socio-economic prosperity and for Việt Nam’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the report.
The report said that forced marriage, child labour, female genital mutilation and other practices undermining girls’ health and rights threaten the development agenda.
Practices that harm girls and violate their human rights – starting at age ten – prevent them from realising their full potential as adults and from contributing to the economic and social progress of their communities.
Ten is a pivotal age for girls everywhere, as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices that will influence her education and, later, her work life.
But in other places, a girl who goes through puberty is suddenly seen as a commodity that may be bought, sold or traded, the UNFPA report showed. She may be forced to marry, pulled out of school and expected to start bearing children and begin a life of servitude.
The State of World Population report notes that of the 125 million ten-year-olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move into adulthood.
Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid work.
The range of proven policy options available to governments has grown over the past decade. These include banning harmful practices, such as child marriage and providing cash transfers to parents of girls in poor households to help defray costs of schooling.
They also include providing life-skills training and age-appropriate sexual education to girls approaching puberty.
The challenge now, UNFPA’s State of World Population report says, is to scale up these interventions to reach more girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by age ten.
Addressing the event, Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Acting Representative in Việt Nam said that today’s ten-year-old girl will be 24 when the deadline for the United Nations’ new development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, comes in 2030.
“That development agenda aims for a world where every single person has an opportunity to fulfill her or his potential – a world that leaves no one behind. With support from family, community and nation, and the full realisation of her rights, a ten-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future we all want,” she said.
Nguyễn Ngọc Lương, secretary of the central committee of the Việt Nam Youth Union, said that with support from families, communities, the nation, and the full realisation of her rights, a ten-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future.
Both UNFPA and the Việt Nam Youth Union call on the Government of Việt Nam and international community to enhance efforts to ensure that every young person is well educated and healthy with the chance to make their dreams come true. — VNS