Monday, September 25, 2017

VP advocates for teen girls on World Population Day

Dangers facing teenage girls should be mitigated by providing them with education, health services and job opportunities, Vice President U Myint Swe said in a ceremony to mark World Population Day in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

In the ceremony, he stressed problems faced by teenage girls around the world. As many as 700 million women globally were married before they turned 18 years old, he said. In 2015 alone, about 15 million young girls were forced to marry, he added.

The 2016 World Population Day’s theme was investing in teenage girls – urging countries to consider better ways to provide them with education, health and development opportunities with gender equality in mind.

Every year about 62 million girls cannot get access to schooling and about 25 percent of girls in developing countries were forced to leave school before completing their primary education, U Myint Swe said.

Every day about 20,000 girls in developing countries between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth, and about 3.2 million young girls of the same age range have unsafe abortions annually, the vice president said. About 10pc of teenage girls under the age of 15 have suffered sexual abuse, he added.

“These facts threaten our future,” U Myint Swe said.

Janet Jackson, the United Nations Population Fund’s representative in Myanmar, said if teenage girls are able to make their own decisions about matters that are important to them and are given access to information, they can overcome the difficulties to lead lives that are beneficial to themselves, their families and communities.

“We see 15-year-old girls, or even younger girls, are victims of half of the sexual abuse cases globally,” she said. “If a teenage girl is unable to make her own decision on her education, health, career and marriage, she won’t realise her ability and she won’t be an important asset for the reforming process of the country.”

As Myanmar undergoes political reform, she said, it is facing demographic changes that could see its teen population reach a record high.

“For countries which have a high population of teenage girls, it is very important to draft policies and invest in education programs and health services that will create job opportunities and promote their lives,” said the vice president.

According to Myanmar’s 2014 census, there are about 5 million girls between the ages of 10 and 19.

“Resolving the difficulties and challenges these 5 million girls face is a good investment for the future of Myanmar,” said U Myint Swe.

Translation by Zar Zar Soe