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Launch of UNICEF’s State of World’s Children Report 2011 by adolescents in Achham

Mangalsen, Achham, 10 March 2011- The State of the World’s Children (SOWC) 2011 was launched in Nepal today by adolescents at a function organized in Mangalsen the Headquarter of Achham District. Young people who were gathered there for the week as part of a UNICEF consultation to discuss and explore issues that most affect them, planned the SOWC launch ceremony themselves.  The UNICEF report entitled ‘Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity’ concludes that investing in the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents aged 10-19 now, can break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequity.

The launch in Nepal was chaired by 13-year-old Jawa Khanal who had walked for two days to attend the consultation and launch. During the SOWC launch, teenage boys and girls enacted a short play that encapsulated the issues that they had decided were most important to them in the two day consultation.  The issues included social and gender discrimination, child marriage, lack of purchasing power, sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and the inability to talk about their issues openly. The children also performed the traditional deuda dance that further highlighted these issues, mixing sharp modern messages with traditional modes of communication.

The launch ceremony was attended by district authorities including the Local Development Officer Mr. Mahendra Lal Shrestha,  Constituent Assembly members Mr. Bhairey Kami and Mr. Sharad Singh Bhandari, and Mr. John Brittain, from UNICEF.

Over five dozen water colour paintings created by the young people during the two day workshop depicting the issues affecting their lives, as well as their vision of a better tomorrow, were also exhibited at the occasion. 

The issues examined and prioritized by adolescents in Achham are not very different from the ones that have been reported by adolescents from around the world in the SOWC Report.

Across the globe more than seventy million adolescents of lower secondary age are currently out of school, and 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 which are high during the second decade of life.

The SOWC 2011 stresses that adolescence is a critically important age. It is during this second decade of life that inequities and poverty manifest starkly. Young people who are poor or marginalized are less likely to make the transition to secondary education during adolescence, and they are more likely to experience exploitation, abuse and violence such as domestic labour and child marriage – especially if they are girls. In the developing world, the poorest adolescent girls are roughly three times as likely to be married before the age of 18 than their peers in the richest quintile of households. Girls who marry early are most at risk in being caught up in a negative cycle of premature child-bearing, high rates of maternal mortality and child undernutrition. Girls also experience higher rates of domestic and/or sexual violence than boys, and are more susceptible to the risk of HIV infections.

Adolescents face numerous global challenges both today and in the future, among them the current bout of economic turmoil, climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, aging societies, the rising costs of healthcare, and escalating humanitarian crises.

The report suggests that in order to enable adolescents to effectively deal with these challenges, it is necessary to ensure targeted investments in:

• Improving data collection to increase the understanding of adolescents’ situation and meet their rights;
• Investing in education and training so that adolescents have the means to lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their national economies;
• Expanding opportunities for youth to participate and voice their opinion, for example in national youth councils, youth forums, community service initiatives, online activism and other avenues which enable adolescents to make their voices heard.
• Promoting laws, policies and programs that protect the rights of  adolescents and enable them to overcome barriers  to essential services;
• Stepping up the fight again poverty and inequity through child sensitive programs to prevent adolescents from being prematurely catapulted into adulthood.


About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information please contact:

John Brittain, Chief, Communications, UNICEF Nepal, 9851054139, jbrittain@unicef.org

Rupa Joshi, Communication Officer, UNICEF Nepal, 9851054140,  rjoshi@unicef.org

 

 

 

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