Half the world is women – and half the world is under 25 years of age. Women are particularly vulnerable in times of global crises. In many developing countries, primary, secondary and tertiary education for girls remains a challenge.
There is no gender equality yet in matters of access to education, professional opportunities, pay and public representation. Women remain underrepresented in top positions. In some countries of the world not a single woman is sitting in the National Assembly.
All around the world, in every country, women and girls still struggle to exercise their full human rights, even to be seen as full human beings. Violence against women and girls is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the deep imbalances in power in our societies, and the vulnerabilities and limitations that follow them, especially for the most marginalized, and especially in crisis contexts, when vulnerabilities are at their peak and protections at their lowest point. Defending women and girls’ rights means understanding and addressing these effects holistically.
Inadequate facilities at schools force millions of girls around the world to miss class during menstruation. It’s estimated that more than half of schools in low-income countries lack sufficient toilets for girls or are unsafe and unclean. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence—most often by an intimate partner. Nearly 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and over 200 million have suffered female genital mutilation. More than 70 per cent of all trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 trafficked women and girls are sexually exploited. This must end.
“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone´s responsibility. Equality for women is progress for all.” – Ban Ki-moon
Today, the world is home to the largest generation of youth in history, with 1.8 billion worldwide. This generation is one of the greatest determinants of whether or not the Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved.
One out of five people globally are between the ages of 15 and 24. Nearly 90 percent of the global youth live in developing countries, nearly one billion in Asia and Africa. Global crises are hitting young people especially hard. Hundreds of millions of young people are directly affected by conflict. Today, over 71 million young people are unemployed, with around 40 per cent of the world’s active youth population either unemployed or living in poverty despite working. Unemployment breeds dissatisfaction and can also lead in extreme cases to violent radicalism. Youth represent 25% of the total working age population and globally, almost one in 7 youth are looking for work.
Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people over the age of 10 worldwide. More than 1,25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death among people aged between 15 and 29 years. 90% of world´s fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle-income countries.
Decreasing youth mortality, supporting education and youth entrepreneurship and raising awareness for global citizenship issues, are important measures to support solutions to today´s global challenges. Young people, women and men, of all cultures can make a significant contribution (no matter how small) to society, by looking beyond the narrow scope of personal or national interest to act as global citizens.
The Sustainable Development Goals are a huge task. Their implementation is a responsibility and an opportunity for the generations to come.
“Working with and for young people and women is a priority. Half the world is women – and half the world is under 25 years of age. The generation of young people is the largest the world has ever known. We cannot afford to create a “lost generation” of squandered talent and disenfranchised citizens.” – Ban Ki-moon