|Tunisia: Adolescents hold hands during a demonstration demanding political reforms, in Tunis.|
1.2 billion adolescents traverse the challenging crossroad between childhood and the adult world. The experiences, knowledge and skills acquired in adolescence have important implications for an individual’s prospects in adulthood. UNICEF segments adolescence can into three stages: early (10-13 years of age), middle (14-16), late (17-19) adolescents
Adolescence are a diverse group; girls, boys, some with disability, some from ethnic groups, some urban and some rural. Yet, nine out of ten of these young people live in the developing world and face especially profound challenges from obtaining an education to simply staying alive – challenges that are magnified for girls and young women.
UNICEF has made great progress in saving young children across the globe, yet we hear too little about adolescence. As a result, the historic progress made in reducing infant and child mortality has not extended into the second decade of life while this period is a pivotal decade when poverty and inequity often pass to the next generation as poor adolescent girls give birth to impoverished children. Investing in adolescent development is imperative to fully realize the rights of all children.
Adolescence is an age of opportunity. Young people are resourceful, courageous, and well aware that their future depends not only on what we can do for themselves and to the society they live in. Climate change is an excellent example. Adolescents in developing countries most at risk from the intensifying effects of climate change are proving to be the most effective advocates for addressing the issue, as evidenced by youth participation in the Rio+20 Conference.