Accra, Nov 9, GNA – The 2016 World State Report has called for investment in girl’s education, health, and leadership skills to enable them to fully realise their potential to harness the nation’s demographic dividend.
The report shows how 10-year-old girls, numbering about 60 million worldwide, are the face of the future and a starting point for achieving the globally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The State of World Population Report 2016 with the theme ‘How Our Future Depends on a Girl at this Decisive age of 10” launched by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Accra says investments in health and education, especially for adolescents and youth, are powerful vehicles for promoting growth and human well-being.
On an annual basis, UNFPA compiles a report on the state of the world’s population with critical areas identified to guide development planning.
The report states that when a girl reaches age 10, her world changes. A number of life-changing events pulls her in many directions. Where she ultimately ends up depends on the support she receives and the power she has to shape her own future.
It states that in some part of the world, a 10-year-old girl on the verge of adolescence sees limitless possibilities ahead and begins making choices that will influence her education, choice of work and her life outcomes.
But in other parts of the world, a 10-year-old girl’s horizons are limited. As she reaches puberty, a combination of social and cultural norms, institutions and discrimination laws inhibit her progress.
The report says the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals aim at equitable, inclusive development that leaves no one behind.
This 15-year plan promises to help transform the futures of millions of 10-year-old girls who have traditionally been left behind hence many of the Sustainable Development Goals may only be achieved if everyone’s potential, including that of all 10-year-old girls, are realised.
Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, UNFPA Representative, Ghana, said the report had given 10 essential actions that are required for the 10 year old girl to realize her human rights and unleash her potential.
He said these actions addressed six key areas that underpinned development, laws, service, policy, investments, data and norms.
Dr Ahonsi said the law stipulated legal equality for girls, backed by consistent legal practice and to ban all harmful practices (FGM, child marriage) against girls, and make 18 the minimum marriage age.
He said service, policy, investments, data and norms called for high quality education for girls, institute a rigorous and systematic focus on inclusion, track and close investment gaps in young adolescent girls and engage girls, boys and all the people around them in challenging and changing gender discriminatory norms.
Dr William Ahadzie, Chairman, National Population Council, said an estimated 322,560 girls turned 10 years of age in Ghana this year, while an additional 32,757 girls would turn 10 next year.
This indicates that more girls would attain this decisive age annually in view of the country’s largely youthful population.
‘Investing in these girls is therefore a must in order to reap the demographic dividend. This is because any country having a large youthful population which over 50 per cent are girls could potentially see its economy soar, provided there are heavy investments in their education, health and protection of their rights,” he said.