UNFPA releases State of the World Population Report 2013


The State of the World Population Report- “Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy” launched by UNFPA finds that more than 7 million girls in poor countries give birth before 18 each year with two million of them 14 or younger. The report, which focuses on adolescent pregnancy, highlights its challenges and consequences on the health, education, employment and rights of millions of girls around the world.

Every day in developing countries, 20,000 girls below age 18 give birth. Nine in 10 of these births occur within marriage or a union. Girls under 15 account for two million of the annual total of 7.3 million new adolescent mothers; if current trends continue, the number of births to girls under 15 could rise to three million a year in 2030.

Pregnancy has major consequences on a girl’s health, says the report, since health problems are more likely if she becomes pregnant too soon after reaching puberty. About 70,000 adolescents in developing countries die annually of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The report also places particular emphasis on girls 14 and younger who are at double the risk of maternal death and obstetric fistula.

Motherhood in childhood” 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. In many cases, especially in girls under 15, such pregnancies are not the result of a deliberate choice but rather an absence of choices, and of circumstances beyond a girls’ control. Early pregnancies reflect powerlessness, poverty and pressures-from partners, peers, families and communities. Adolescent pregnancy is both a cause and consequence of rights violation.

The State of World Population 2013 calls for a shift away from interventions targeted at girls towards broad-based approaches that build girls’ human capital, help them make decisions about their lives, including matters of sexual and reproductive health, and offer them real opportunities so that motherhood is not seen as their only destiny. This new approach must target the circumstances, conditions, norms, values and structural forces that perpetuate adolescent pregnancies on the one hand and that isolate and marginalize pregnant girls on the other. Girls need to have access to both sexual and reproductive health services and to information. They need to be released from the economic and social pressures that too often translate into a pregnancy, as well as the poverty, poor health and unrealized human potential that come with it.