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World Population Day 2013 Highlights Importance Of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention

“With 16 million girls under 18 giving birth and 3.2 million of these teens experiencing unsafe abortions each year, the U.N. has focused the theme of 2013’s World Population Day on teenage pregnancy, highlighting the important role that teen girls play in positively impacting future generations and underscoring the importance of providing them with adequate health care and educational resources,” Huffington Post reports. “The United Nations designates every July 11 to highlight issues related to population growth, including environmental sustainability, global development, health care and youth empowerment,” the news service notes (Salass, 7/11). “About 16 million girls under age 18 give birth each year, according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which noted that another 3.2 million undergo unsafe abortions,” the U.N. News Centre notes. “UNFPA pointed out that adolescent pregnancy is a health issue: the youngest mothers face a heightened risk of maternal complications, death and disability, including obstetric fistula,” the news service writes, adding, “Their children face higher risks as well. It is also an issue of human rights: adolescent pregnancy often means an abrupt end of childhood, a curtailed education and lost opportunities.”

In his message in observance of the day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “This sensitive topic demands global attention. … When we devote attention and resources to the education, health and wellbeing of adolescent girls, they will become an even greater force for positive change in society that will have an impact for generations to come,” according to the U.N. News Centre. UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in a statement, “Today, we call on governments, the international community and all stakeholders involved to take measures that enable adolescent girls to make responsible life choices and to provide the necessary support for them in cases when their rights are threatened,” the news service notes (7/11). In a statement marking the day, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted the current “generation of 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 is the largest the world has ever seen, and will shape the future of the world we live in.” He added, “Whether it’s across the Greater Middle East or Africa, the sheer number of young people is striking, and demands leadership capable of meeting their demands for dignity and opportunity in addition to basic necessities,” including “access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive rights” (7/11). USAID provides a World Population Day website, including an infographic on adolescent pregnancy (7/11).