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The United Nations has designated July 11 every year to be World Population Day (WPD). These year the WPD focus is on young people. United Nations defines young people as between the ages of 15 and 24.

Why was the focus on young people? According to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), there are about 1 billion adolescents who have or are about to enter their reproductive years. For all of them, it will be a critical time. For many, it may be fatal. Over 500,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth each year; many of them are young girls. Today, 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Half of all new HIV infections are among young people. Girls are at particular risk.

UNFPA work to ensure safe passage into adulthood for millions of young people. At the International Parliamentarians’ Conference (IPCI) in Ottawa, Canada elected representatives from 72 countries and territories pledged to save adolescents’ lives by giving them the education, opportunities and services that are vital for their health. They need supportive relationships and respect. In return, the world needs their active participation. This pledge is part of UNFPA’s mission: protect and empower the young to safeguard.

Adolescent Reproductive Health
Ignoring young people’s sexuality does not solve their problems. Among girls aged 15 to 19, 15 million give birth each year and 4 million undergo abortions – many unsafe. Only 17 percent of sexually active young people use contraceptives. 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. Gender has a major impact: 82 million girls in developing countries will be married before their 18th birthday. Early marriage often leads to early childbearing, which not only limits life opportunities but also carries serious health risks.

What can we do?

  • Protect and empower girls and boys before it is too late
  • Provide sexuality education
  • Delay marriage
  • Prevent unwanted pregnancies
  • Ensure affordable, accessible and youth-friendly services
  • Combat gender stereotypes
  • Treat pregnancy-related illness such as obstetric fistula
  • Establish national policies for youth
  • Conduct better research
  • Raise awareness of the dangers of early childbirth
  • Protect adolescents at greater risk because they are female, poor, refugees, living on the streets, out of school or otherwise vulnerable

HIV/AIDS and Young People
HIV/AIDS can be stopped – and can only be stopped – by educating, empowering and mobilizing young people. The life skills that enable young people to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are, in the era of HIV/AIDS, a matter of life and death. Every day, HIV infects nearly 6,000 young people. Half of all new infections occur among young people aged 15 to 24. Young women and adolescent girls are highly vulnerable. We know that prevention works: trends are reversing where national programmes aim to prevent infection among young people.

What can we do?

  • At different ages and stages, advocate abstinence to delay the start of sexual activity, being faithful in sexual relationships and, for sexually active young people, correct and consistent use of male and female condoms
  • Support sexuality and HIV/AIDS education
  • Safeguard young people’s human rights
  • Welcome actions by young people to mobilize their peers, families, communities and governments
  • Ensure access to voluntary testing, counselling and early treatment
  • Involve boys and men in ending violence against women and protecting their sexual partners from infection

Involve Young People in Planning and Producing Events for World Population Day on 11 July 2003and throughout the years.

  • Engage artists, writers, actors, painters and musicians to work together with young people in creating messages for the day.
  • Organize public contests for the best posters, essays, songs, speeches, plays, poems, slogans and artwork about young people and reproductive health. Offer prizes or publication and arrange local media coverage.
  • Hold workshops, debates, lectures, seminars, round table discussions and press conferences.
  • Write case studies and examples that tell the story of a person or programme. Use quotes, set the scene, describe the people and the process. Work with journalists to create special materials or supplements for newspaper and magazines.
  • Produce programmes for radio, television and film.
  • Share information and link to the UNFPA web site (www.unfpa.org).
  • Encourage discussions among young people inside and outside school.

Real success stories inspire action. UNFPA is collecting summaries of reproductive health activities showing positive results, whether implemented with governments, NGO’s schools, community groups or individuals. Please write up your experiences and send them to dungus@unfpa.org or to this address: United Nations Population Fund Information Executive Board and Resource Mobilization Division 220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA Telephone: +1 (212) 297 5020 Facsimile: +1 (212) 557 6416 Web site: www.unfpa.org

rammes are frequently conducted for young people.

Along with UNFPA, FFPAM also put great emphasis on the empowerment of young people in sexual reproductive health and rights. Youth Centre, Youth Friendly Clinic, skills building workshop and area related programmes are frequently conducted for young people.

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