By Sailu Bah
National Program Officer of UNFPA said the Gambia has the highest mortality rate within the sub-region due to the early marriage of young girls.
Mr. Alieu Sarr said this at a youth forum organized by the UNFPA in collaboration with the National Youth Council (NYC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports held at Paradise Suit Hotel on Tuesday, 18th November 2014.
The UNFPA official said early marriage causes a lot of reproductive health problems and implications on young people. “If the future has to be transformed, we need to harness the potentials in young people, because they constitute a large chunk of the population. Young people need a proper platform to realize the potentials in them, and they should be educated in order to stand a better chance in contributing meaningfully to national development,” he said.
Mr. Sarr further said that UNFPA’s goals are to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health, realize reproductive rights and reduced maternal mortality to accelerate progress on the ICPD agenda.
“Enough resources should be invested on young people to ensure that we harness the demographic dividend as they constitute the highest population group,” he said.
The National Program officer disclosed that UNFPA has come up with a slogan that states “Every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
In her statement, Nancy Aminata Niang, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports, deputizing the minister, called on the youth to take up the challenges and responsibility in developing themselves and their nation.
The Youth and Sports Minister, Alieu Jammeh, urged the youth to request air time on the state media to enlighten one another on important issues concerning their livelihoods.
“The Theme of this year’s population celebration is “the power of 1.8 billion: adolescent, youth and the transformation of the future. Young people matter. They matter because an unprecedented 1.8 billion youth are alive today, because they are the shapers and leaders of our global future. They matter because they have inherent human rights that must be fulfilled,” said the minister.