Being an adolescent in the Dominican Republic.
As a consequence of the above, UNICEF is committed to focusing its efforts on three essential stages of childhood development. From 0 to 6 years: a good start in life; from 6 to 12 years: the opportunity to complete a good quality basic education; and from 12 to 18 years: the capacity to develop individual potential in adequate and safe environments so as to contribute and participate in the family, the school, the community and society.
For UNICEF, adolescence is a socially created concept which has cultural connotations and therefore does not constitute a homogeneous group. One should take into account that this development period of the human being comprises of several stages and each has different demands and needs in terms of one’s body, sexuality, emotions, analytical and thinking capabilities, social development and participation in processes related to overall development.
Adolescence in figures
Poverty greatly affects this age group according to ECLAC estimates, of the 13 to 18 years range alone 49.1% are poor.
(Source: Santo Domingo: Secretariat of State of Education/Statistics Department, 2005).
Apart from access to the formal education system, the adolescent population has limited access to technical/vocational education through institutes and schools, because enrolment costs are not affordable for many families.
Concerning HIV and STD prevention, recent data revealed that male adolescents protect themselves more than female adolescents. While 46.9% of males stated using condoms with any female partner, only 10.6% of females stated using them. This reveals the limited capacity and power of females adolescents as regards decision making concerning their rights to receive sexual and reproductive health information and services.
Among the population of 15 to 19 year olds there is less knowledge of the symptom of STDs than among the adults surveyed. Among the group of adolescents that did not know the symptoms of STDs, the figures were 43.9% and 39.8% for women and men respectively. (Source: Demographic and Health Survey (ENDESA)/Santo Domingo: Social and Demographic Study Centre (CESDEM by its initials in Spanish), 2002)
A study carried out in two cities of the country, Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata, reveals some indicators that are of grave concern about minors who are exploited sexually for commercial purposes; the average age is 15 in the case of males and 16 in the case of females. Forty percent of the 118 interviewed in the study had run away from home at least once alleging family problems and conflicts. In the case of female adolescents, 26.2% of them lived ate home with a partner, eight percent had suffered from a Sexual Transmitted Disease (STDs) at some time; and 66% had been pregnant.
(Source: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors in the Dominican Republic/Santo Domingo, DO: ILO/IPEC; PROFAMILIA, 2002).
Concerning birth registration, according to the ENDESA Survey, in 2002, 6.1% of 10-14 years olds had not been registered thus denying them the right to a name and nationality, and consequently the right to education, which limits their technical or professional formation, to have better job opportunities and exercise their rights as citizens.
In nine municipalities of the country Children and Youth Councils have been created in which adolescents show their capacities to participate in municipal development management. Also noteworthy are the children’s clubs (formed by boys, girls, and adolescents) created by Radio Marien in Dajabon and youth networks that work to prevent HIV/AIDS, among other areas where adolescents participate.
As a way of fostering adolescents’ participation and to bring out the problems that affect them, during the 2002-2006 Country Programme, the following initiatives were promoted:
• Youth city halls (to strengthen leadership capacity and turn them into agents of change, responsible for promoting projects in favour of their communities and in particular children and adolescents).
Voices of Youth
Voices of Youth has been working since 1995. It started as a platform for more than 3,000 young people from 81 countries to send their messages to world leaders during the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen during the spring of 1995. It was also conceived as part of the celebration of UNICEF’s fiftieth anniversary (UNICEF started its operations on December 11, 1946).
From its inception, Voices of Youth devoted itself to ensuring that youth from all countries could learn more, give more opinions and do more in the world they live in.