Globally, there are 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries who face challenges to education and health services and too often face persistent discrimination and violence. They frequently have limited opportunities to gain the education, knowledge, resources, and skills that can lead to economic advancement.
Social isolation, economic vulnerability, and lack of access to health care and education prevent healthy transitions from childhood to adulthood, especially for vulnerable adolescent girls in developing countries. In Zambia, poor girls often are at high risk of gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and HIV. Many drop out of school, are unable to find employment, lack the ability to make independent decisions, and are not being reached by existing programs for young people.
After setting the global development agenda in 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations highlighted the need to focus on enhancing economic growth through sustainable and meaningful work in its 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Today, the UN calls for the “promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all,” and seeks to address the 470 million jobs that need to be created for youth entering the workforce from 2016 to 2030.
“Almost 43 percent of the global youth labor force is either unemployed or working, yet living in poverty,” according to Global Employment Trends for Youth 2015 by the International Labour Organization. In countries with mature economies, nearly one in five students don’t acquire a minimum level of basic skills needed to be gainfully employed.
The World Bank
Do you remember how you felt when you graduated from high-school or college? Like me, you probably experienced some uncertainty and anxiety about what comes next, asking questions such as: “Will I get a job, and if so, where?
What should children be able to learn at school? Are math, reading, and science enough for the 21st century? From the earliest learners to adolescents, students across age groups are missing out on critical learning opportunities. These opportunities are those that help us develop a range of skills, essential to tackle the challenges of our dynamic, rapidly growing world and transform us into our “better selves”—mindful, empathetic, critical-thinking, creative, and collaborative beings.
For hundreds of millions of children and young adults who wake each day to poverty, the future can look daunting. There are few avenues to escape life in slums, where dreams often are dampened by a reality of limited access to essentials — such as education and health care — that others take for granted.
International Labour Office and The MasterCard Foundation
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is in the grip of an unemployment crisis that is mainly affecting its countries’ youth populations. The region’s unemployment rates among the youth cohort are twice as high as the global average and are particularly high among those with tertiary education. High unemployment rates are accompanied by increased shares of inactivity among youth, with too many youth withdrawing from the labour market due to family responsibilities or discouragement with their labour market prospects.
Ashesi University College & The MasterCard Foundation
Berekuso, Ghana, November 18, 2016 – Ashesi University College’s commitment to educating Africa’s next generation of ethical leaders was bolstered today with an additional $25.5 million commitment from The MasterCard Foundation. What was initially envisioned as a commitment to support the education of 200 bright young African leaders as part of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has been expanded to include an additional 240 students.
Youth Service America
The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries - regardless of income - to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.