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Her Honor the Vice President of the Republic Ms. Inonge Wina has called on all national stakeholders and cooperating partners to accelerate targeted investments in adolescent girls, as this will foster equitable and sustainable national development.

“Empowerment of women and girls - including breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty, violence, social exclusion and discrimination - is a cornerstone of national development. Educated and empowered girls have greater autonomy to make decisions that positively influence their health and development. It is therefore important for all national stakeholders to accelerate targeted investment efforts in adolescent girls” highlighted Ms. Wina in a key note address read during the official opening of a high-level stakeholder meeting on adolescent girls on 14 July 2016, as part of the 2016 World Population Day commemoration under the theme ‘Investing in Adolescent Girls’.

The Vice President added that the Government of the Republic of Zambia will ensure that issues affecting women and adolescent girls are included the Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan.

Also highlighting in her remarks read at the High level Meeting, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet Rogan noted that “too many adolescent girls are held back by social, economic and cultural traps. As such, and in line with the theme of the 2016 World Population Day, priority investments we need to make as a society include giving adolescent girls the power, the means and the information they need to make her own decisions in life. That way, they are more likely to resist and overcome obstacles that will otherwise stand between themselves and a healthy, productive future”. Ms. Rogan added.

To support evidence-based policy and programming for women and girls, Population Council - with technical and financial support from UNFPA Zambia and the Central Statistical Office – shared key research findings around teenage pregnancy and child marriage in Zambia. The research established the probable ‘Hotspots’ to guide targeted investment in teenage girls, including addressing the key drivers of child marriage in Zambia including poverty, limited access to sexual and reproductive health services by adolescents; social and cultural determinants; limited information and education on sexuality; and limited opportunities for adolescents particularly for those in rural areas).

UNFPA Zambia Representative, Dr. Mary Otieno, re-affirmed UNFPA’s commitment to work with the Government, the United Nations system, the private sector and civil society to build continent where adolescent girls have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services and possess the knowledge and confidence they need to make the right choices for a healthy life.

“We commit to the bold pledge of the 2030 Agenda to ‘leave no one behind’ and to prioritize investment in girls as the smart choice for the health and prosperity of all our nations” said Dr. Otieno.

Concluding the High Level Meeting, and on behalf of adolescent girls in Zambia, 15 year old member of the UN Zambia Youth Partnership Platform, Natasha Mwanza, shared key recommendations to improve the status of adolescent girls in Zambia.

“Harnessing the Demographic Dividend in Zambia using an integrated development framework adopted for the country through the Seventh National Development Plan is critical for the achievement of sustainable national development. Key policy options we are advocating for include:

  1. Accelerating demographic transition through investments that facilitate rapid fertility decline, including family planning, the use of effective contraceptive methods, enhanced child survival and improved education and general empowerment of women;
  2. Enhancing investments in high-level education to develop a well-educated, skilled and innovative labour force;
  3. Enhancing investments in health services to nurture a healthy and productive labour force;
  4. Advancing Economic reforms to accelerate economic growth and job creation for the rapidly expanding labour force; and
  5. Ensuring Fiscal policies and governance reforms to enhance savings, attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and ensure efficiency and accountability in the use of public resources” .