For adolescents around the world, report cards present a measure of their academic progress – and can point the way towards their futures. But how does the global community measure up in our efforts to give those young people the futures they deserve – and the tools and opportunities to make the most of their lives?
As the 10th edition of UNICEF’s Progress for Children shows, this report card is mixed. For while we have made significant progress for millions of children over the last decades – reducing child mortality, increasing the number of children enrolled in primary school, expanding access to health care services – our efforts have left behind far too many adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19.
Some pointers from the Progress for Children report-
- In absolute numbers, India is home to more adolescents – around 243 million – than any other country. It is followed by China, with around 200 million adolescents nearly one third of adolescent girls in south Asia are married or in union.
- Young people’s use of social media such as Facebook, Orkut in Brazil and India, has grown exponentially over the past few years.
- Nearly 50 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15–19 in India are underweight, with a body mass index of less than 18.5.
- Bangladesh, India and Nigeria alone account for one in every three of the world’s adolescent births. (The only industrialised country among the top 10 countries with the highest number of adolescent births is the United States).
- In India, less than 30 per cent of mothers under 20 years old in the poorest households are assisted during delivery by a skilled birth attendant, compared to 90 per cent of young mothers in the richest households.
- Young women in the poorest households are seven times more likely to give birth before age 18 than young women from the richest households in India.
South Asian context
- Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s 127 million illiterate youth live in South Asia (65 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (47 million).
- Some 71 million children of lower secondary school age worldwide are not in school and 127 million youth between 15 and 24 are illiterate – the vast majority in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Some 1.2 billion adolescents (10−19 years old) today make up 18 per cent of the world’s population. More than half of all adolescents live in Asia.
- Each year 1.4 million adolescents die from road traffic injuries, childbirth complications, suicide, AIDS, violence and other causes.
- Some 75 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed.
- “Today’s adolescents were born under the auspices and protections of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. We have promised them much; and we must deliver.” – Anthony Lake
- The report identifies sub-Saharan Africa as the most challenging place for an adolescent to live and it is projected to have the greatest number of adolescents in the world by 2050.
- The report says that over a third of women aged 20 to 24 in developing countries excluding China were married or in a union by the age of 18 with about one third of these being married by age 15.
- Globally, each year around 16 million girls aged 15–19 give birth, accounting for around 11 per cent of all births.
- In 21 developing countries where we have enough data to assess the situation, more than one third of all girls aged 15 to 19 suffer from anaemia.
- An estimated 2.2 million adolescents are living with HIV – around 60 per cent of whom are girls.