Woman at a radio station (Photo by Jeroen van Loon)

Sexual rights of young people central at State of the World Population

With a quarter of the world’s population under 24 years old and 90 percent of them living in developing countries, now is the time to invest in the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. This is essential for developing economies to be able to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend. This was the message of Young People and the Transformation of the Future, an interactive afternoon held in The Hague, The Netherlands on November 18.

During the event UNFPA’s 2014 State of the World Population Report The Power of I.8 billion: Youth and the Transformation of the Future was launched. Bruce Campbell, Director of UNFPA’s Technical Division presented the report to Jeroen Verheul, Netherlands’ Ambassador at Large for Aid and Trade. They were introduced by Andree van Es, Chair of the Rutgers’s Supervisory Board.

Dividend

“The Power of 1.8 billion is one of the most significant World Population reports in a long time,” UNFPA’s Mr. Campbell explained: “The demographic dividend - when a population has more healthy, working people in the productive age then in non-productive ages – is a profound boost for development and an unique chance to end poverty.”

Mr. Campbell: “Thailand and Vietnam are two countries that have shown what investing in education meant for their development when young educated people joined the labor force.”

SWOP launch NL 2014 (Floor Godefroy)

“The Netherlands takes population issues very seriously,” Ambassador Verheul said: “We have been challenged to explain that for most countries continuous population growth and development are difficult to combine. The economic argument to invest in education and sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people is often powerful.”

SWOP_launchNL _LindaBarry

Sexual rights

The event which focused on sexual rights of young people and how comprehensive sexuality education can help realize the demographic dividend, provided some lively debates. Linda Barry and Stefan Hennis, two advocates of CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, challenged participants to rate their organizations in how far they involved young people.

Ambassador Verheul for example explained how the Netherlands often include youth representatives in their delegations to United Nations Meetings.

Mr. Campbell earlier spoke about how “in the post 2015 development agenda young people deserve much more attention. In fact, we should get young people in the world to engage and to lead the discussion around development and demand that sexual rights for young people are part of this agenda,” he said.

Education

Rutgers’s Laura van Lee caused a lot of hilarity when inviting the meeting participants to experience comprehensive sexuality education through the game Love is all Around.

The game demonstrates how comprehensive sexuality education provides young people not only knowledge, but also skills and attitudes to be able to experience safe and pleasurable sexual relations, without coercion and violence.

Young People and the Transformation of the Future was hosted by Rutgers, together with UNFPA and CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality.

 

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