According to officials, the day focuses attention on the urgency and importance of population and reproductive health, particularly in the context of overall development, and the need to address these issues.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘ investing in young people.
Speaking on behalf of the vice president, Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy, the governor of West Coast Region Siffai Hydara stated: “The day was established to focus attention on the urgency and importance of addressing contemporary population and development issues. In keeping with UNFPA’s focus on adolescent well-being, and to help include a new goal for young people in the post-2015 development agenda, the theme of this year’s world population day is “investing in young people.” Thus underscoring the importance of paying attention to the needs of the young people. People around the world observe world population day in different ways. In the Gambia, the day would be marked by speeches, press releases, radio panel discussions and march past by various youth groups and people from all walks of life to help communicate to decision-makers that adolescent and youths are central to our future development agenda.
“Young people face a range of health and social challenges, for example adolescent girls who engage in sexual activity before they have acquired adequate knowledge and skills to protect themselves are at a high risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and Aids”.
She added: “Recent UNFPA reports have shown that the proportion of the global population that is between ages 10 and 24 accounted for 28 percent in 2010, slightly higher than in Asia, and more than 31 percent of the population of Africa. Worldwide, 69 million adolescents of lower secondary school age currently remain out of school. Sub- Saharan Africa and south and west Asia have the highest rates of early school drop outs. Across these regions, more than one in every three students who started primary school in 2011 will not make it to the last grade. While the largest gains in primary school completion over the past decades were observed among girls, secondary education remains a challenge for adolescent girls in many regions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. The disproportionate exclusion of girls from access to education is not only greater at the secondary than at primary levels, it increases from lower to upper secondary levels. For many adolescents, particularly girls, school maybe an unsafe place. Due to school-based gender- based violence girls maybe pulled from school to be married. After marriage, young girl’s access to formal and even informal education is severely limited because of domestic burdens, child bearing and social norms that view marriage and schooling as incompatible. Coerced sex, reported by 10 percent of girls who first had sex before 15, contributes to unwanted adolescent pregnancies. Worldwide, more than 15 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth every year. Pregnancy and child birth are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls 15-19 in low and middle – income countries.”
Dembo Kambi, the youth chairman for West Coast Region stated: “As we celebrate this important day, let us reflect on the importance of the theme of this year’s world population day celebration which is ‘ investing in youth is investing in the future’ . The theme could not have come at a better time than now when young people are faced with the challenges of population growth that are unemployment, crime, health and reproductive and sexuality and irregular migration. The world today has its largest generation of youths in history, 1.8 billion young people, a greater cohort of which lives in developing countries with enormous potentials to help tackle the major challenges facing their general development. But too many of them are denied their rightful opportunities to get quality education, find decent work and participate in the political lives of their societies.
“Most societies in developing countries perceive it as taboo to provide access to quality and comprehensive sexuality education and services for young people, thus leaving them more vulnerable in reproductive health issues. Statistic have shown that world- wide, more than 15 million girls aged 15-19 give birth every year with about 19 percent of young women in developing countries becoming pregnant before the age of 18 and most of them are either non-consensual or early marriage.”]]>