Every year on July 11, the international community holds World Population Day, a day dedicated to observing population issues. These issues become more challenging as the world’s population continues to grow rapidly. As of March 2016, the number of people in the world was approximately 7.4 billion and is expected to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030, according to the U.N.
The World Population Day theme this year was investing in teenage girls. The day marked the launch of the Babaenihan campaign, which will work to secure the success of young girls in the Philippines.
The world’s fastest growing population is adolescents, according to UNFPA. About 25% of the world’s population is made up of adolescent girls between the ages of 10 and 24, said UNPFA. In developing countries, adolescent girls constitute up to one-third of the population.
Adolescent girls are constantly faced with challenges. Despite their young age, they are often considered eligible for marriage and ready for motherhood. These premature life changes prevent girls from completing their education.
Even those that can remain in school lack access to invaluable information about human rights and health, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.
The alarming increase of the youth population does not match the access in education to women’s rights and reproductive health. Pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for girls between 15 and 19 globally, according to WHO.
In the Philippines, young girls represent 10% of the country’s 100 million people population, according to UNFPA. The country has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Southeast Asia. It was the only country in the Asia-Pacific region whose rate of early pregnancy did not decrease but doubled from 6.3% in 2002 to 13.6% in 2013, according to the survey released by the University of the Philippines Population Institute.
Adolescent girls hold huge potential for the country’s future; however, their success depends on their access to the right information, help shaping their skills and empowerment. Ensuring their prosperity will increase the positive development of the country.
The Babaenihan campaign will use policies and programs to increase opportunities for young girls in the Philippines through investing in their education, health and wellbeing. As the Philippines Vice President, Leni Robredo, expressed in a speech read by her daughter, education for young girls is an especially important solution for reducing poverty.
– Erica Rawles