New Delhi, November 13, 2020: Population Foundation of India, a leading national non-government organisation, has emphasised the need for a more coordinated and synchronised approach towards addressing the issues of children and adolescents in the country. On the occasion of Children’s Day, the organisation urged everyone to work towards fulfilling the aspirations of young people, the future of this country.
Sharing her thoughts, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India, said, “This year, there is a message, I am convinced, in Children’s Day coinciding with Diwali, the festival of lights. It is our collective responsibility to brighten up the lives of our young ones. This Children’s Day let’s work together to provide a safe and enabling environment for our adolescents of today to create healthy and educated young people who are employable citizens of tomorrow. A coordinated effort by all, government, civil society and the people, towards the comprehensive development of adolescents is the need of the hour.”
According to UNICEF, India has the largest adolescent population in the world, approx. 25 crores, i.e. every fifth person in India is between 10 to 19 years, making it a young country. The children of today, a high percentage of India’s population are the decision-makers and the future of our country. They need to be fed, educated, made to feel wanted and taken care of if India is to have a bright future. COVID-19 has adversely impacted the social, health, educational and economic condition of our society, especially adolescents who continue to face challenges in the form of lack of healthcare services, sexual reproductive health services, access to basic education, early marriage, teenage pregnancy and unemployment.
A collective will and coordinated show by our policymakers is required to safeguard the interests of our young generation. And a lot depends on the way we as a nation address the concerns and aspirations of our adolescents today. The future of our country and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) depends hugely on them.
Expressing her thoughts on Children’s Day, Mausam, a young girl from Hardia village, Rajauli Block, Bihar said, “Health is one of the critical elements in the overall development of young people. After all, healthy youth means a healthy society as they are the future of our country. More efforts should be put in improving access to healthcare facilities for youth by setting up and strengthening Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics across every state.”
Mausam is one of the hundreds of youth leaders who have been mentored and trained by the Population Foundation of India in leadership skills and community-based monitoring of health services.
Sania, another youth leader from Nawada district of Bihar, expressing her views said, “Education and employment are key factors for us that will determine our quality of life in the future. On this Children’s Day, I wish every child and youth a healthy and happy life with ample employment opportunities for them in the country.”
Over the years, while India has invested in social development indicators for health, education and economic development there is still a huge opportunity for further improvement. Access to healthcare facilities, sexual reproductive health (SRH) services, basic education, age at marriage, malnutrition, skill training and unemployment are, to name a few, some of the critical concerns affecting our young population today.
Considering these challenges are spread across the spectrum, a synchronized approach will strengthen programmes and policies for adolescents. Policymakers must work in a unified manner to meet the needs and aspirations of our adolescents. We, as a nation, should work together in this direction and ensure comprehensive development of our adolescents where they have equal access to health, education, skill development and employment opportunities.