11 July 2003
World Population Day
Statement by Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA
Statement by Kofi Annan,
UN Secretary General
Events Worldwide
Adolescent reproductive health
HIV/AIDS and young people
Youth participation and ideas for action
Send us your success story

The State of World Population 2003 Making 1 Billion Count: Investing in Adolescents’ Health and Rights

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World Population Day 2003
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Abbas/Magnum Photos
State of World Population

“All young people have a right to health, including reproductive health, and the information and services to make this right a reality. This is especially urgent in the fight against HIV/AIDS. UNFPA supports national efforts to ensure that young people can make informed, responsible decisions and lead healthy, productive lives.”

— Thoraya A.Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA

More than 1 billion young people are between the ages of 15 and 24. They need supportive relationships and respect. In return, the world needs their active participation.

Adolescent Reproductive Health

Success Story

In Mongolia, all secondary schools are now required to teach a course on sexuality education, designed by local professionals with UNFPA support.

Ignoring young people’s sexuality does not solve their problems. Among girls aged 15 to 19, 15 million give birth each year and 4 million undergo abortions—many unsafe. Only 17 per cent of sexually active young people use contraceptives. With limited knowledge about their bodies, adolescents are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, exploitation and violence. Both girls and boys suffer when denied access to needed information and services. Gender has a major impact, however: 82 million girls in developing countries will be married before their 18th birthday. Early marriage often leads to early childbearing, which not only limits life opportunities but carries serious health risks.

Protect and empower girls and boys before it is too late • Provide sexuality education • Delay marriage • Prevent unwanted pregnancies • Ensure affordable, accessible and youth-friendly services • Combat gender stereotypes • Treat pregnancy-related illnesses such as obstetric fistula o Establish national policies for youth • Conduct better research • Raise awareness of the dangers of early childbirth • Protect adolescents at greater risk because they are female, poor, refugees, living on the streets, out of school or otherwise vulnerable

HIV/AIDS and Young People

UNFPA in Action

In Sierra Leone, UNFPA is providing life-saving information and services to girls and women who were abducted and raped during the conflict and to war-affected youth as well. After the civil war, the country faces a new enemy in HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS can be stopped—and can only be stopped—by educating, empowering and mobilizing young people. The life skills that enable young people to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are, in the era of HIV/AIDS, a matter of life and death. Every day nearly 6,000 young people become infected with HIV. Half of all new infections occur among young people aged 15 to 24. Young women and adolescent girls are highly vulnerable. We know that prevention works: trends are reversing where national programmes aim to prevent infection among young people.

At different ages and stages, advocate abstinence to delay the start of sexual activity, being faithful in sexual relationships and, for sexually active young people, correct and consistent use of male and female condoms • Support sexuality and HIV/AIDS education • Safeguard young people’s human rights • Welcome actions by young people to mobilize their peers, families, communities and governments • Ensure access to voluntary testing and counselling, and early treatment • Involve boys and men in ending violence against women and protecting their sexual partners from infection

Youth Participation

Success Story

Young people’s involvement shaped an important National Adolescent and Youth Policy for the Dominican Republic. Invited to participate in the drafting process, carried out with UNFPA support, young people gained recognition as a national resource and positive force.

With energy, ambition and a will to change, young people can shape the future of their countries. They are making a difference as peer educators helping others avoid unwanted pregnancy and STIs, as actors in plays on HIV/AIDS prevention, as speakers asking politicians to listen. Most of the world’s 1 billion young people live in developing countries. Young people (especially adolescent girls) need a voice in decisions affecting their lives and opportunities to participate as citizens and actors of change. The benefits for all include human rights, social cohesion and stability, and productive adults contributing to development.

Involve young people in decision-making processes • Educate to improve knowledge and life skills • Engage in dialogue • Promote girls’ empowerment and gender equality • Facilitate youth leadership, citizenship and partnership with adults • Reduce poverty and increase opportunities • Recognize differences based on age, gender and culture • Enlist parents, teachers and communities in support of young people’s participation

Involve young people in planning and producing events for World Population Day on 11 July 2003.

  • Engage artists, writers, actors, painters and musicians to work together with young people in creating messages for the day.

  • Organize public contests for the best posters, essays, songs, speeches, plays, poems, slogans and artwork about young people and reproductive health. Offer prizes or publication and arrange local media coverage.

  • Hold workshops, debates, lectures, seminars, round table discussions and press conferences.

  • Write case studies and examples that tell the story of a person or programme. Use quotes, set the scene, describe the people and the process. Work with journalists to create special materials or supplements for newspapers and magazines.

  • Produce programmes for radio, television and film.

  • Share information and link to the UNFPA web site (www.unfpa.org).

  • Encourage discussions among young people inside and outside school.

Send us your success story

Real success stories inspire action. UNFPA is collecting summaries of reproductive health activities showing positive results, whether implemented with governments, NGOs, schools, community groups or individuals. Please write up your experiences and send them to dungus@unfpa.org or to this address:

United Nations Population Fund
Information, Executive Board and Resource Mobilization Division
220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA
Telephone: +1 (212) 297-5020 Facsimile: +1 (212) 557-6416
Web site: www.unfpa.org

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