There are more than 32 million adolescents in Bangladesh. In a country of young demographic, they make up 21 percent of the population.
As adolescent girls and boys grow, they take on additional responsibilities, experiment with new ways of doing things and push for independence.
It is a time in which values and skills are developed that have great impact on well-being. But in Bangladesh, the potential of adolescents in improving their own lives and communities is quite unused.
Bangladesh’s cultural context generally does not encourage adolescents to share their views, raise their voices or question adults on matters affecting their lives.
So their needs and vulnerabilities are often unaddressed as adolescent-friendly services continue to be unfamiliar concepts.
A large number of these youths lack access to schools and therefore risk being trapped in low-paid jobs.
Despite the high fertility rate among adolescents, they lack information reproductive health and nutrition because of limited access to health facilities.
Adolescents girls face much violence and exploitation because of harmful norms of a highly patriarchal system of society.
Those belonging to ‘low’ castes, indigenous groups, religious minority groups and living with disability suffer further discrimination.
Rapid urbanisation has been straining provision of basic services for adolescents in urban areas and slums.
Bangladesh is highly prone to disasters such as flooding and cyclones because of climate change. Such situations see to the rise of child labour, trafficking and child marriage. In times of crisis and disaster, adolescents are at increased risk of abuse, including rape, in shelters.
There are many limitations to engaging with adolescents representing a variety of ethnicities and cultures in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. On top of that, most of the area there are ‘media dark’.
Success in getting equitable results for adolescent girls and boys is limited.
This UNICEF learned is because of inadequate policy frameworks, lack of capacities of government institutions and minimal participation of young girls and boys in official plans for improving their conditions.