Thirty-three billion in earnings are lost every year in the Philippines as a result of teenage pregnancy, the United Nations Population Fund says in its State of World Population 2016 report.
The report, presented during a forum at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pasig City on Thursday, says girls who reach adulthood with proper education and their health and rights intact could triple their lifetime income, thereby fueling progress for generations and entire nations.
Klaus Beck, UNFPA Representative in the Philippines, says the practices that harm girls and violate their human rights”•starting at the age of 10″•prevent them from realizing their full potential as adults, and from contributing to the economic and social progress of their communities and nations.
He warns that sex-related diseases, teenage pregnancy and child labor are undermining girls’ health, rights and opportunities and threaten the world’s new and ambitious development agenda.
Without the girls’ contribution, says Beck, the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals may never be achieved.
“Impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and fulfilling adulthood is a violation of her rights,” Beck said.
“But it also takes a toll on her community and nation. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealized, we all lose.
“By ensuring the over one-million 10-year-old girls in the Philippines get the tools, know-how and opportunities they need to meet their potential, they could each earn over 45 percent more over the next 15 years”•that’s an extra 12.8 percent of today’s GDP.”
The report says 10 is a “pivotal age for girls everywhere as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices on her education and later life.
“But elsewhere, girls are seen as commodities to be bought, sold or traded. She may be forced to marry, pulled out of school and forced to bear children and begin a life of servitude.
“In the Philippines, teenage pregnancy limits far too many girls’ hopes, dreams and aspirations. It also costs the country around P33 billion each year in foregone earnings.”
The new development agenda, which was endorsed by world leaders in 2015, is global blueprint for peace, prosperity and a sustainable future to 2030, leaving no one behind. Removing the barriers that hold 10-year-old girls back today will help make sure the agenda is a success, the report says.
The report notes that of the 125 million 10-year-olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move through adolescence and into adulthood.
Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.
The challenge now, the reports says, is to scale up these interventions to reach more girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by age 10.