By Nakyazze Julian*
This year, World Population Day is celebrated on the 11th July with the theme invest in young people to ensure a bright future. According to the statistics there are 1.8 billion people aged 10-24 in the world, making one quarter of the world’s population.
Every day the world seems to keep getting worse with many shocking stories of violence and war. Often it is the young people who are mostly blamed for these challenges. We blame terrorism on the unemployed young men who become radicalized extremists. We blame poverty on the illiterate young women who become pregnant and give birth to babies they can’t afford. We blame young girls for engaging in early sex and end up acquiring STIs.
If you believe the stories, and follow the blame game, the world’s biggest problem is young people because currently over 1.8 billion young people with 88 percent of all adolescents are living in poor countries, too many are uneducated, unemployed and unable to access basic health services and information. Young people are denied the basic sexual and reproductive health services and information they need to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. There are specific ways in which investment in youth can be put to work to achieve the greatest benefits in terms of economic, social and human rights. We can all work together to make sure that the young people are protected, educated and in good health.
A high quality, equitable, inclusive and comprehensive education is one of the major factors relevant to young people’s lives which can build resilience among youth and pave the way for livelihoods that will contribute to the development of their communities. Comprehensive sexuality and risk education can help to prevent early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS as well as the risky behaviors that gain prevalence in adolescence, such as smoking or alcohol consumption.
Ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health, rights and information is essential, including the right of every one to seek, receive and give information about sexuality without stigma, discrimination or violence, in order to have their bodies respected and protected.
Young people need support from the government, CSOs, educators, health workers to become catalysts for poverty reduction, good governance and economic development and to ensure that their voices are heard. Are you a young person? How are you ensuring a bright future for yourself and the generations after you? Join the Twitter Dialogue #wpd2014
*Nakyazze Julian is an FK fellow from DRASPAC in Uganda currently working with FEMNET. Connect with her on twitter @judrine or email: firstname.lastname@example.org