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World Population Day, 11 July 2003

The United Nations Population Fund has designated 11 July of each year as World Population Day. In 1987 the total world population was 5 billion, and the “Day of 6 Billion” was observed on 16 June, 1999. The annual addition is about 80 million.

The theme and slogan for World Population Day for 2003 are “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” and “1 Billion Adolescents: The Rights to Health, Information and Services” respectively.

More than 1 billion young people are between the ages of 15 and 24. They need supportive relationships and respect. In return, the world needs their active participation.

The World Population Day 2003 will focus on:

Adolescent reproductive heath: With limited knowledge about their bodies, adolescents are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, exploitation and violence. Both girls and boys suffer when denied access to needed information and services. Early marriage often leads to early childbearing, which not only limits life opportunities but carries serious health risks.

HIV/AIDS: This pandemic can only be stopped by educating, empowering and mobilizing young people. Every day nearly 6,000 young people become infected with HIV. Young women and adolescent girls are highly vulnerable. Prevention works. Trends are reversing where national programmes aim to prevent infection among young people.

Youth participation: Most of the world’s young people live in developing areas. Young people can shape the future of their countries. They are making a difference as peer educators helping others avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as actors in plays on HIV/AIDS prevention, and as speakers asking politicians to listen. They need a voice in decisions that affect their lives.

FFPAM and its 13 State FPAs continue to strengthen its programmes for young people where young people are provided with a supportive and an enabling environment to receive information, education and life skills on their sexual and reproductive health, leading to their holistic development. Young people are also actively involved in designing, implementing and monitoring activities that will lead to a better quality of life through practising healthy lifestyles.

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