"On this World Population Day, I urge all Governments, businesses and civil society to support and invest in teenage girls. Everyone deserves the benefits of economic growth and social progress. Let us work together to ensure a life of security, dignity and opportunity for all."
- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
South Korean statesman and politician
Yesterday, July 11, the United Nations celebrated World Population Day with a call for leaders and communities to focus on and stand up for the rights of teenage girls, particularly those who are poor, out of school, exploited, or subjected to harmful traditional practices.
Teenage girls around the world face enormous challenges. Many are considered by their communities or parents to be ready for marriage and motherhood. Many are forced from school, damaging their future prospects. Even among girls who stay in school, access to basic information about their health, human rights and reproductive rights can be hard to come by, leaving them vulnerable to illness, injury and exploitation. These challenges are exacerbated among marginalized girls, such as members of ethnic minorities or those living in poverty or remote areas.
When teenage girls are empowered, when they know about their rights and are given the tools to succeed, they become agents of positive change in their communities.
Let's join the United Nations in urging world leaders to support and invest in better opportunities for teenage girls.
Nicole Kent is the