Stronger policies for youth

Article Date

22 January 2013

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Recent events like the Arab Spring, the horrific shooting of Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai and the tragic gang rape and murder of a young woman in India have thrust issues related to young people onto the global stage. As we recognize the tremendous needs of and challenges faced by the world’s growing population of youth, their positive engagement and participation are also being increasingly noticed in the global development arena.

Young people under the age of 25 comprise 43 percent of the world’s population – some 3 billion people – and we are in need of stronger policies and heightened attention to their complex needs. Indeed, the issues affecting the world’s youth are varied and complicated:

  • Some one in three girls will be forced into marriage before the age of 18, violating their human rights and putting them at great risk for early pregnancy, sexual violence, and a host of other life-changing challenges.
  • Complications during pregnancy or childbearing continue to be the leading cause of death for girls ages 15 to 19 in developing countries.
  • While educational enrollment has increased over the past decade, unaffordable costs, a lack of classrooms, systemic gender discrimination and child labor keep children and youth from school. As a result, youth face high rates of illiteracy and a dearth of skills needed for meaningful employment.

In partnership with the United Nations Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), ICRW during a Jan. 23 event will highlight recent milestones related to adolescent and youth health and development. These include:

  • The new USAID Youth in Development Policy, wherein the U.S. government commits for the first time to a holistic and comprehensive approach to youth development and transitions from adolescence to adulthood. The policy importantly aims to mainstream youth in development policies and programs and to elevate the level of youth participation in USAID’s programming around the world.
  • The 2012 Lancet Adolescent Health Series, which seeks to “put the young person, not the specific issue, centre stage” and aims to move adolescent health into the mainstream of global health agendas.
  • The ICPD Global Youth Forum, a multi-stakeholder international forum sponsored by the UN Population Fund and hosted by the government of Indonesia. The forum, which took place in Bali last December, resulted in an historic and cutting-edge set of recommendations for youth health, rights and development.

ICRW is committed to using these events and other venues to increase awareness about the importance of youth health and rights in global development. And, we will continue working to ensure that appropriate attention is given to gender and how global development issues affect, and are affected by, the lives of women and girls, men and boys.