Nepal needs to invest more in youths to drive economic and social development, suggests the State of World Population 2014, released today by the United Nations Population Fund.
Being home to more than nine million people between the ages of 10 and 24 years in 2014, Nepal’s transitional demographic shift opens a window for demographic dividend — accelerated economic growth resulting from changes in the population age structure, adds the report.
The UN body believes that countries with large youth populations could see their economies soar, provided they invest heavily in young people’s education and health and protect their rights.
Findings of the report are quite impressive, as it explores ways for distribution of demographic dividend, Dr Ram Saran Pathak, who heads the Central Department of Population Studies at Tribhuvan University told THT. “Investment policies should focus on young population (33 per cent) by realising their full potential,” he said. The demographer also asked the policy makers to give priority to young people while formulating strategies to achieve sustainable development goals.
“Each day we take thousands of decisions. The decisions we take throughout life and in our various roles…affect different people. Therefore, we need to stand on our own feet to become involved in taking decisions,” the UNFPA quotes Manisha Byanjankar, a Nepali adolescent girl, in its report.
UNFPA Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin adds that today’s record 1.8 billion young people, 90 per cent of them living in less developed countries, present an enormous opportunity to transform the future. “Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only if they have skills, health and decision-making ability,” he adds.
According to the report, Nepali women live longer than men with life expectancy of 69 years, two years more than the males. As of 2013, maternal mortality ratio (deaths per 100,000 live births) was 190, while only 36 per cent of total births were attended by skilled health personnel in Nepal, adds the report.
Adolescent birth rate per 1,000 Nepali women aged 15-19 years is 87 but the contraceptive prevalence rate stands at 53 per cent for the same age group, the report states. Among the primary school-age children, 98 per cent of males and 97 per cent of females are enrolled in schools, adds the report. It, however, finds that male and female enrollment in secondary schools is just 59 and 61 per cent, respectively.
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