Children are unambiguously the focus of the millennium development goals (MDGs).
But what happens when they grow up?
“In the global effort to save children’s lives, we hear too little about adolescence,” says Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s energetic new executive director. “Surely we do not want to save children in their first decade of life only to lose them in the second.”
The State of the World’s Children 2011 produces a snapshot of what the world looks like for its billion-plus teenagers, 88 percent of which live in developing countries.
Scraping together datasets from across the UN’s organisational web, the report looks at the effects of under-investment in adolescents.
Data on secondary school enrolment show that, globally, 70m of the world’s teenagers are out of school. But variation by country is vast: while secondary school enrolment in Tanzania is only 5 percent, that in Sweden is nearly 100.
Other key findings are:
• 21% of the world’s teenage girls are married or living “in union” with a partner
• 59% of teenage girls are married in Niger – the highest proportion in the world. The lowest figure is Algeria at only 2%
• Niger also tops the percentage of teenage girls who have given birth – 51%. Second is Chad where 48% have given birth
• The lowest percentage of teenage girls who have given birth is Turkmenistan – 2%
The report also compiles figures on early pregnancy, childbirth, and marriage, focusing on specific challenges facing girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
So what does the world look like for the children of the Millennium Development Goals?
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