Sana’a, Yemen, 11 July 2016 – Today, on World Population Day, UNFPA, the United Nations Population is highlighting the situation of teenage girls in Yemen and around the world; and the importance of empowering them and allowing them to participate in the development of their societies.
In Yemen, young people aged 10 to 24 years make up 33 percent of its population, with nearly 11 percent of them being teenagers between 15 to 19 years of age. An estimated 1.4 million of these teenagers are girls. The 2013 Demographic Health Survey revealed that nearly 32 percent of girls in Yemen are married off before their 18th birthday, 9.4 percent before they are 15 years. In addition, 8.1 percent of these teenage girls have given birth before they reach 19 years of age.
The escalating conflict in Yemen, has meant the disruption and breakdown of institutions, systems and community and family structures that often support girl’s development, protect them from violence and uphold their human rights. This has been exacerbated by the displacement of more than 2.8 million people, half of theme being women and 40 to 50 percent of them below 18 years of age. This environment has devastating effects on teenage girls, forcing them to leave school, increasing their exposure to violence and child marriage. For instance, UNFPA’s information management system indicates that since March 2015, nearly 10% of reported cases of gender-based violence have been forced or child marriages.
In such humanitarian crises, while teenage girls become increasing vulnerable, they also possess enormous capacity from becoming a source of transformation in their families and communities. Investing in girls economic and social empowerment can reduce their risks of experiencing violence and is an effective pathway to development. “Girls are an untapped force in Arab economies, but have the potential to become a lifeline for the whole region”, states Dr. Luay Shabaneh, UNFPA’s Director for Arab region.
In Yemen and around the world, UNFPA advocates for the empowerment of teenage girls by working with governments on improving policies that give girls access to rights, including to education, employment, healthcare and sexual and reproductive health care. UNFPA is committed to promoting and protecting these rights and to supporting teenage girls to determine their own destinies.
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