In the regional presentation of the 2014 World Population report by the UN, the Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Latin America and the Caribbean, Marcela Suazo, highlighted the challenges that the region faces today. The analysis shows what we can do and where we need to focus our investments in each country, for the sake of promoting the development of youth and society.
Globally, young people aged between 10 and 24 years old constitute, according to the report, less than a quarter of the world’s population; nine out of ten live in less developed countries.
For instance, in Latin America, countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua or El Salvador presented one higher concentration of adolescents and young people, who represent 30% or more of their population.
On the contrary, Cuba, Peru and Jamaica show percentages that vary between 10% and 19%, which are alike to figures in Europe, Canada, Australia and East Asia.
“However, the region has to face common challenges, such as making effective the right to sexual and reproductive health”, commented Marcela Suazo. “We cannot reduce teen pregnancy; we’re the second region of the world, after sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest rates”, Suazo said.
On the other hand, along with social barriers are also economic barriers. The largest number of young people in the region work in the informal sector of the economy. These young people can integrate into the productive economy of the countries, generating savings, investment and strengthening sustainable development. It is therefore important to locate those sources in which it is necessary to delve into the investment to achieve growth.
“Young people have been seen, for a long time, in a negative way. They are conceived as an economic burden, but now they are considered as an opportunity for development”, commented the Director of the Foundation IDEA, Marco Antonio Lopez Silva.
Finally, according to Lopez Silva, it is necessary to deepen the quality of education, since young people sometimes keep the perception that what they are learning is not what is needed for the labor market.