Adolescents to parliamentarians: "You speak about future, we are the present!"
CHISINAU, Moldova, 2 March 2011 - The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova in partnership with UNICEF Moldova focused their attention today on adolescents with the joint launch of UNICEF’s 2011 State of World’s Children Report and opening of an exhibition of photos by Moldovan adolescents at the Parliament building.
The State of the World's Children Report is released every year by UNICEF and examines the most important achievements and challenges within children's rights. This year's report, entitled “Adolescence – an age of opportunity” focuses on 10-19 year olds who currently represent 18% of the world’s population.
The Report highlights the need for investments in quality education and training, health care and expanding opportunities for adolescents to participate and voice their opinion through youth councils, youth forums, community service initiatives and other avenues which enable adolescents to make their voices heard. These investments, especially when oriented towards the most vulnerable young people, can break cycles of poverty and inequity, the Report shows.
Strong investments during the last two decades have resulted in enormous gains for young children up to the age of 10. Yet, there have been fewer gains in areas critically affecting adolescents.
Around the world more than seventy million adolescents of lower secondary age are currently out of school, and globally girls still lag behind boys in secondary school participation. Without education, adolescents cannot develop the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the risks of exploitation, abuse and violence that are at height during the second decade of life.
The Republic of Moldova is currently home to more than half a million adolescents, or 15% of the population. Most live in rural areas. Contrary to the global situation, more boys than girls miss out on secondary education. In 2009, for every 133 girls who attended high school and middle school only 100 boys were enrolled. A similar situation is found in colleges and universities. The situation is reversed for vocational education where there are only 46 girls for every 100 boys.
Other challenges faced by Moldovan adolescents include absence of parents, poverty, especially in the rural areas, health risks and lack of social services adapted to their needs.
“UNICEF believes that adolescents are part of the solution. We need to involve them in decision-making, provide them with platforms of expression and believe in their role as active citizens. Investments in adolescence, including education, can ensure that young people are ready to contribute both socially and economically to Moldova’s dynamic development”, Alexandra Yuster, UNICEF Moldova Representative mentioned during the event.
The exhibition of photos in the Parliament taken by adolescents and describing their experiences is an example of youth’s involvement and achievement of their right to participation and free expression. "The Moldovan Parliament supported this initiative because for us it is very important to find out what children and teens have to say and which are their main concerns. Such initiatives improve our decision making and furthermore contributes to solving problems faced by teenagers, so they can enjoy the beauty and opportunities of this age", said Liliana Palihovici, Vice President of the Moldovan Parliament.
The exhibition titled "You speak about future, we are the present" was organized by UNICEF Moldova in partnership with the Parliament of Republic of Moldova and Youth Media Center, and the photographs were taken by a group of teenagers from Chisinau and other ten regions of Moldova. Some of the young photographers live in boarding schools.
Note to the editors:
The State of World’s Children Report 2011 "Adolescence – age of opportunity" in Russian and English language, the report's executive summary in Romanian and photo-essay titled "You speak about future, we are the present" are available on www.unicef.md
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