Port-au-Prince, July 8, 2016- On the occasion of World Population Day celebrated on Monday, July 11, 2016, the United Nations in Haiti reaffirms its support to the country to invest in youth, especially adolescent girls, as one of the key factors to advance in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for the socioeconomic growth of Haiti.
The Secretary of State for Population and UNFPA – together with the other agencies of the United Nations system, the United Nations Volunteers Program and MINUSTAH, are celebrating World Population Day this year around the theme “Invest in adolescent girls ”. The celebration of the event will be held on Monday July 11 in the presence of several government ministers and the UNFPA representative in Haiti.
57% of the Haitian population is under the age of 24 (6.2 out of 10.9 million inhabitants) and this characteristic holds great potential for development and economic growth if young people have access to a good education, health, including sexual and reproductive health, and employment opportunities.
Nevertheless, according to the representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Marielle Sander, investing in the rights of young girls to enable them to plan their families as they wish is essential to take advantage of this growth potential and so that the state is able to facilitate basic services to the population. “For the economic growth and for the development of Haiti, it is very important that every young girl has the right to control her body and her future. Pregnancy by choice, and not by chance ”. Today in Haiti, 11% of adolescent girls have had at least one child.
According to UNFPA studies, every dollar invested in the education of young people in the Caribbean region has a return of 12.7% for each additional year in school. This benefit is even higher for young girls with access to secondary education (18%). The return on investments for the benefit of the population is also visible in the health sector, in which every dollar invested in the training of midwives returns 16 times to the economy of the country.
With regard to adolescent girls, the United Nations draws attention to the fact that, although they are key actors in development, they are also among the most vulnerable to various challenges including natural disasters, lack of access to basic services, unequal working conditions, environmental degradation, limited access to water and sanitation, as well as water-borne diseases.
The challenges of poverty and unemployment
According to the latest household survey (ECWAS 2012), 6 out of 10.4 million Haitians (59%) live below the poverty line of $ 2.42 per day and over 2.5 million (24%) live below the poverty line of $ 2.42 per day. extreme poverty line of $ 1.23 per day. Haiti is also one of the most unequal countries in the Caribbean region and the planet, where the richest 20% hold over 64% of the country’s total income. These inequalities particularly affect the youngest and, according to the Millennium Development Goals report, young people in the metropolitan area suffer from a record unemployment rate of 57%.
In Haiti, young people aged 10 to 19 represent 21.7% of the population. At this crucial stage of their life, they need to be put in a position to fulfill their potential and have a prosperous, healthy and fulfilled life, believes the United Nations System. Particularly with regard to adolescent girls, specific interventions are necessary to enable them to face certain problems which prevent them from realizing their potential. These barriers include violence and rape, early pregnancy and teenage motherhood. It is also essential to preserve the rights of children and prevent child exploitation. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and the latest United Nations reports, more than 200,000 children work in domestic service in Haiti.
Reduce maternal mortality
The United Nations applaud Haiti’s progress in the field of health in recent years, in particular by the 10% reduction in the mortality of children under 5 between 2005 and 2012, as well as the 43% reduction in maternal mortality rate between 1990 and 2013. Nevertheless, the United Nations considers that this progress is not yet sufficient and that there is still a lot of work to be done, since the maternal mortality rate in Haiti is still among the highest in the America and the Caribbean region (380 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to United Nations estimates).