Windhoek – According to the 2015 national review on school dropouts and out of school children, approximately 22 percent of children and young people between 7 and 19 years were not in school and the main reason for dropping out, particularly among girls, is adolescent pregnancy.
This was revealed by Katutura Central Constituency Councillor Ambrosius Kandjii whose speech was read on his behalf by Khomas Region circuit inspector Milton Steven Ya Otto during the 2016 State of the World Population report on Friday at Mandume Primary School.
The report under the theme, “10: How our common future depends on a girl at this pivotal age”, examines how the support “we provide to adolescent girls today will determine our collective well-being tomorrow.”
Kandjii said vast gaps in data exist in many areas, including poverty, intimate-partner violence and adolescent deaths from pregnancy, especially in the 10 to 14 year-old range.
As a result, he said, the challenges many girls face remain unaddressed, and this valuable segment of society is repeatedly unable to realise its full potential.
He noted that if the right investments in young people enabling them to participate in decisions that affect their lives and adopt policies to bolster economic growth are made, nations could realise a demographic dividend.
“And with the support from family, community and the nation at large, through investment in our girls we can chiefly eradicate poverty and ensure a prosperous Namibia as per our Harambee Prosperity Plan,” Kandjii explained.
Meanwhile, the UNFPA representative to Namibia, Dennis Gayle, said in some countries and communities, when a girl reaches age 10 and approaches puberty, she may suddenly be seen not as a girl capable of anything she sets her mind to, but as a commodity that may be sold, traded or trafficked for marriage, for childbearing, free labour and sexual exploitation.
She said every day 47 700 girls, many of them as young as age 10, are at risk of early and forced marriage.
“With child marriage often comes pregnancy, and with child pregnancy comes health risks and a curtailed education, undermining girls’ prospects for jobs and self-sufficiency. For millions of girls, the arrival of puberty marks the beginning of a lifetime of poverty, powerlessness and missed opportunities. Their doors to the future slam shut and their lives stop being their own. This is an unforgivable injustice and a violation of girls’ fundamental rights,” she noted.
The report shows that girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact stand to triple their lifetime income, adding that higher incomes and greater productivity can fuel progress for entire countries.
Over the next 15 years alone, the report indicates, developing countries together stand to gain or forfeit at least U$2 billion depending on whether they invest in the well-being, education and independence of their 10-year-old girls today.
The report also shows that “our collective future depends on how we support today’s 60 million 10-year-old girls today as they start their journey from adolescence to adulthood.”