“Young people have the power to transform their communities and create a better world for us all. But the facts are clear: many of the world’s adolescent girls are not reaching their full potential because of a lack of access to quality reproductive health information, education and services. We must recognize that reproductive health isn’t a privilege; it’s a right.
“Right now, statistics show that some 14 million girls are subject to early or forced marriage each year. Many of these girls become pregnant before their bodies are ready, which is why pregnancy is a leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19. Approximately 70,000 girls are dying every year, according to the ICPD Global Review Report. That’s not a future that we want.
“The good news is: we have the power to change this reality and help girls everywhere reach their full potential. When girls can fully realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights, they can choose their own paths in life. They can stay in school, avoid early marriage and unintended pregnancy, and pursue an income. They can have children when they are ready. In turn, they lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.
“I see a future with healthier girls and women, stronger families, more prosperous communities and a more sustainable planet. To get there, we must redouble efforts to invest in the information, education and services she needs to plan her family and her future, and ensure that the health and rights of adolescent girls is robustly included in the next development framework.
“This World Population Day, let’s all commit to supporting the United Nations to ensure every girl can reach her full potential. It’s a no brainer: invest in the health and rights of an adolescent girl now, and you’ll invest in a better future for us all.”