In 2000, United Nations delegates and world leaders declared eight Millennium Development Goals to be met by 2015:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability.
Goal 8:  Develop a Global Partnership for Development.

Improving the health and well-being of youth is paramount to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Why? Read on:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
462 million young people live on less than $2.00 a day.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.
Early marriage and unintended pregnancy are two of the most prominent reasons girls drop out of school.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.
Gender discrimination often starts from the day a girl is born; in some countries infant girls are less likely to survive than infant boys due to gender preference and neglect. Greater equality for female children and adolescent girls is necessary to ensure that women have equal rights later in life.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality.
Infant and child mortality is highest amongst children of adolescent mothers. Young mothers are also more likely to have low-birth-weight babies, increasing the risk of childhood malnourishment, poor development, or death.

Goal 5: Improve maternal health.
Unintended and early pregnancy among adolescents negatively effects adolescent maternal health.  Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth, and girls ages 15 to 19 are two times more likely to die than women ages 20 to 24.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
Nearly half of all new HIV infections occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Approximately 7,000 young people are infected with HIV daily.  Ninety-seven percent of these new infections occur in low- and middle-income countries with limited access to HIV-prevention information and care.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability.
1.7 billion people live in countries that are “water stressed.”   Deforestation and lack of water puts a great burden on adolescent girls living in rural areas. In some rural areas, women and girls spend approximately three hours a day fetching water.  Increasing amounts of deforestation means that girls must walk further to find wood for fuel. If girls are spending half the day looking for water and fuel, then they are not in school.

Goal 8:  Develop a Global Partnership for Development.
One of the targets of goal eight is to provide decent and productive work for youth.

“Addressing the needs of adolescents, especially those of girls, is critical to the achievement of every one of the Millennium Development Goals.” – UNFPA

Learn more about the Millennium Development Goals.

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