The politics of world demographic trends

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Thu Jul 24 03:49:24 MDT 2003

The number of young people in the world has risen


THE world's population is on the rise, highlighted by an increasing number
of young people. Adolescents count for one sixth of the planet, and in the
industrialized nations over 40% of the population is under 20 years old.

The decisions taken by these young people will shape the world and prospects
for future generations; which is why the United Nations is urging more
support for youth so they can realize their dreams and have a better life.

The planet now holds 6.3 billion people, representing an increase of more
than one billion over the last 15 years. Almost half of these are under 25;
more than one billion are between the ages of 15-24 and in need of our
respect and support.

Lack of information makes the young, and adolescents in particular,
vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, drug abuse, exploitation and
violence. One of our current challenges and risks is HIV-AIDS, given that
half of those now infected are young men and women.

Educating, mobilizing the young and applying widespread measures are the
only way to put an end to this pandemic.

Throughout the world, millions of girls and boys are being deprived of
education, resulting in serious consequences for their individual prospects
and those of society as a whole. The vast number of young people without
access to these services heralds devastating consequences. Every day, more
than 70,000 adolescent girls marry, many against their will, and almost
40,000 give birth, affirms Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UN Family Planning
Association (UNFPA) director. She added that this means they are unable to
finish their studies, thereby limiting their opportunities and seriously
endangering their health.

Each year the world population increases by 78 million people, a figure just
short of the entire population of Germany. Over 95% of this growth occurs in
developing countries. But in Europe, North America and Japan, the rate is
somewhat slower. The United States is the only highly industrialized country
where the population is growing. This is due, in grand measure, to young
immigrants whose rights are not acknowledged.

The United States, Canada and European Union member countries are unwilling
to sign the International Convention on protecting the rights of all migrant
workers and their families, despite the fact that 60% of the world's 175
million immigrants are living in these developed nations. This represents a
graphic example of governments that call themselves the defenders of human


Since 1974, the UN Fund for Population Activities has undertaken five
programs in Cuba. Aid has been focused on services for the promotion of safe
and healthy sexuality and a responsible upbringing of children. Cooperation
has included funds for the construction of an oral contraceptive factory,
which currently meets one third of the potential estimated demand. The UN
agency is planning a sixth aid program in Cuba with the aim of improving the
population's quality of life.


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