UN: Early pregnancy takes a toll on a girl's health, education and rightsListen /
Every year 7.3 million girls under 18 years give birth, according to the latest State of World Population 2013 released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Of these 7.3 million births, 2 million are to girls 14 years or younger, who suffer the gravest long-term health and social consequences from pregnancy, including high rates of maternal death.
The report entitled, ‘Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy’ is calling for a holistic approach to tackling the challenge of adolescent pregnancy.
It calls for more investment in education to keep girls in school, bring to an end child marriage, changing attitudes about gender roles and gender equality. increasing adolescents' access to sexual and reproductive health, including contraception and providing better support to adolescent mothers.
Alanna Armitage is the Director of the UNFPA Office in Geneva.
"Early pregnancy takes a toll on girls health, education and rights. A girl without an education is a girl who will have a hard time finding a job and building a future for herself and her family. A girl who is pregnant at 14 years or earlier is a girl whose rights have been violated and whose future has been derailed. There are 580 million adolescent girls in the world. This year's state of the world population report shows that by empowering our girls, protecting their rights and investing in them today, we can help them all realize their full potential."
The report offers a new perspective on adolescent pregnancy, looking not only at the girls' behaviour as a cause of early pregnancy, but also at the actions of their families, communities and governments.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.