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Forum to discuss plight of young people, adolescents

Jun 1, 2011, 2:04 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

As part of activities marking the official launching of the UNICEF flagship report on the State of the World’s Children 2011, UNICEF Banjul office in collaboration with the Gambia government will today jointly convene an intergenerational forum on adolescent issues.

The report on the theme: “Adolescence: an age of opportunity” will be launched this Thursday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

The intergenerational forum, to be held at the Friendship Hotel in Bakau will, among others, address issues affecting young people in The Gambia, as well as map out strategies that will sustainably guide them to become productive in life.

It is also expected to serve as a platform to highlight issues affecting young people in The Gambia, and to come up with recommendations on the way forward.

“Young people who are poor or marginalized are less likely to make the transition to secondary education during adolescence, and they are more likely to experience exploitation, abuse and violence such as domestic labour and child marriage – especially if they are girls,” a media advisory from UNICEF said yesterday.

According to the media advisory, girls who marry early are most at risk of being caught up in a negative cycle of premature child-bearing, high rates of maternal mortality and child under-nutrition.

“Girls also experience higher rates of domestic and/or sexual violence than boys, and are more susceptible to the risk of HIV infections,” it said.

Unemployment remains a major problem, the release noted, adding that in addition, adolescents face numerous global challenges including the current economic crisis, climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, ageing societies, the rising costs of healthcare, and escalating humanitarian crises.

This year’s report, among others, examined the social and economic status of adolescents and underscored the need to harness the potential, energy and the skills of young people, as well as invest greatly in them to break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequity, and accelerate progress and development.

UNICEF, which is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories, helps children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.

The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF also supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS.