Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 6 News List

UN says investment in 10-year-old girls will reap rewards

AP, UNITED NATIONS

The UN population agency is urging greater investment in the world’s 60 million 10-year-old girls, saying what happens at that age can shape their futures.

The State of World Population 2016 Web site — launched on Thursday — said that more than half of these girls live in the 48 countries considered to have the worst gender equality and they are less likely than boys to finish school and more likely to be forced to work and to be child brides.

The UN Population Fund that said if all 10-year-old girls in developing countries who never attend school or drop out early were to complete secondary education, their earnings would trigger a US$21 billion annual dividend.

According to the report, 10 is a pivotal age for girls as puberty approaches, because of choices that start being made about education, work, marriage and child bearing.

While some girls enjoy limitless opportunities, others are seen “as a commodity that may be bought, sold or traded,” pulled out of school, forced to marry and “begin a lifetime of servitude,” it said.

“Impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and autonomous adulthood is a violation of her rights,” Population Fund executive director Babatunde Osotimehin said. “How we invest in and support 10-year-old girls today will determine what our world will look like in 2030.”

The report said that about 90 percent of 10-year-olds live in less-developed regions of the world, with half in the Asi-Pacific region, including 20 percent in India and about 13 percent in China.

Of the top 10 countries with the largest number of 10-year-olds, the only one that is not classified as “less developed” is the US, it said.

In the area of education, for example, the report said less than half the boys and only about a third of girls of elementary-school age in South Sudan were attending school last year, adding that there are similarly low levels in countries like the Republic of the Congo and Liberia.

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