Mar 6, 2015, 10:39 AM
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday launched the State of the World Population report 2016 in The Gambia, at a ceremony held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The event brought together government officials, institutions of the UN System in The Gambia, stakeholders, school children, and women’s groups, among others.
The 2016 state of the world population report is in recognition of the challenges faced by adolescents, particularly girls.
This year’s report is entitled: “10: How Our Future depends on a girl at this decisive age”.
The report puts more emphasis on girls that are 10 years, as they are prone to violations and exploitation.
The Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy, giving the keynote address, said the report clearly indicated that forced marriage, child labour, Female Genital Mutilation and other practices undermining girls’ health and rights threaten the world’s ambitious development agenda.
The report underscored the fact that practices that harm girls and violate their human rights start at the age of 10.
It prevents them from realising their full potential as adults, and from contributing to the economic and social progress of their communities and nations.
She emphasised that without their contribution, the United Nations Agenda 2030 for SDGs and the accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals may never be achieved.
“The Government of The Gambia is committed to ending violence against women and girls, and this has been epitomised in the enacted Women’s Act 2010 and CEDAW and also, in addition, the Sexual Offence and the Domestic Violence Bill, all geared towards addressing the issues affecting them.”
The Vice President added that the Gambia government would strive to step up for the 10-year-old girl bearing in mind that when “you failed her we do so at our own peril as children, as future adults and as parents of the next generation”.
She said when given the rights they need, they would stay healthier and would grow to raise healthy children too.
Speaking at the launching, the UN Resident Coordinator for the UN System in The Gambia, Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, said the theme could not be more timely and the reason being that a 10-year-old girl today would be 24, when the progress towards the United Nations new development agenda is tallied in 2030.
She said for many 10-year-olds, this pivotal age is a time for new possibilies but, as statistics shows, a majority of them, mostly in the developing countries, are faced with unending challenges which hinder their path to a decent adulthood because of limited choices and opportunities.
The UN country representative further added that it is important to reflect on their responsibilies and actions, and to ensure that the right investments are made in favour of the 10-year-old girl to help them dream for a better future, and realisation of her true potential.
She thanked the Gambia government for the steps taken to protect girls and also reassured all of the continued partnership with the government and people of The Gambia.
Representing the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Ebrima Njie, the deputy Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, said in the ever changing world today, increases in the population seem to pose a great challenge for nations as it impacts heavily on national resources for the provision of social services such as health and education, as well as access to food.
He said the situation raises the question as to whether the world population should be controlled as they move forward.
He said the position of many societies around the world was that if nothing was done about the population growth, pollution, poverty and deprivation would increase and resources to fulfil their needs would continue to decline.
He added that girls all over the world, in their life receive contradicting messages on how to address the daily choices which have long-life effects on their development, and many also are denied the essential support they need to become knowledgeable, confident and skilled adults.
Zeynab Adewusi, a 10-year-old girl, was given the platform on behalf of her colleagues in the country to express her gratitude, and she tasked everyone to give them the opportunity to excel.
She said the journey to adulthood is faced with numerous obstacles such as violation of their rights, and so many other factors.
She added that when they are given the proper investment they would grow to be useful members of the globe.
On behalf of all girls, she thanked the Gambia government for their efforts at making sure girls in the country are comfortable.
Giving a summary of the 2016 state of the world population, Kunle Adeniyi chief of operations at UNFPA, said the report focuses on girls at 10 years, and the key areas of education, health, information and services, child marriage, gender-based violence, as well as the engagement of parents and communities.
If these are tackled, the issue of the demographic dividend would be realised, he said, and called for more investment on girls for a brighter future.