Adolescents and youth

Invest in adolescents

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0902/Marco Dormino
Haiti: Adolescents map their community in Port au Prince.

Adolescents aren’t just the future; they work, learn and contribute to family and community life each and every day. Investing in their present is right in principle and UNICEF is obligated to under existing human rights treaties.

The global economic crisis has produced a large cohort of unemployed youth, which in 2009 stood at around 81 million worldwide.

For those who are employed, decent work is scarce: In 2010, young people aged 15–24 formed around one quarter of the world’s working poor.

Adolescence is the pivotal decade when poverty and inequity often pass to the next generation as poor adolescent girls give birth to impoverished children. The intergenerational transmission of poverty is most apparent among adolescent girls.

Educational disadvantage and gender discrimination are potent factors that force them into lives of exclusion and penury, child marriage and domestic violence.  Today, nearly only half the world’s adolescents of the appropriate age attend secondary school and many who do attend fail to finish their studies.

Investing in adolescents may be the best way to accelerate the fight against poverty, inequity and gender discrimination. Tremendous progress has been achieved for children in early and middle childhood but the lack of attention and resources dedicated to the adolescents is threatening children around the globe. 

Evidence  shows just how precarious the second decade is:

  • 81,000 Brazilian adolescents were murdered between 1998 and 2008
  • Attendance for secondary school is one third lower than for primary school
  • One third of all new HIV cases involve young people aged 15–24.5
  • 1 in every 3 girls gets married before the age of 18

Efforts to support of children’s rights and well-being will not be complete until adolescents are included in our plans and priorities.

 

 


 

 

Publications


The State of the World’s Children 2011:
Adolescence – An Age of Opportunity
English
French
Spanish



Every Child's Right To Be Heard

 

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