Speech by Ms. Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Representative a.i. in Viet Nam at the launch of the State of World Population 2016

21 October 2016
  • Mr. Bui Dang Dung, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee for Finance and Budget;
  • Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Luong, Secretary of the Viet Nam Youth Union;
  • Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hao, Director of the Central Center for Youth and Adolescents, Youth Union;
  • Your excellency Mme Nienke Trooster, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
  • Representatives from the Government, civil society organizations, NGOs and media;
  • A very good morning to you all, especially to all the young students who are with us here today.

On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam, I am very pleased to launch UNFPA’s flagship report, the State of World Population 2016, entitled "10: How our future depends on a girl at this decisive age”. Let me start with thanking the Central Center for Youth and Adolescents of the Youth Union for co-organizing this special event. I would also like to thank the management board and students of Khuong Dinh school for hosting us at this beautiful school today. We feel extremely happy about organizing this launch at school because the report is about young girls. We would like today’s event to be interesting and memorable for our young audience.

Ladies, gentlemen, girls and boys,

Age 10 is an important time in our lives, which we call “early adolescence”. It is a very special period, in which we usually start the transition from being a child to being an adult. In this report, we focus on 10-year-old girls because many girls across the world are facing difficult challenges, and also because those girls have incredible possibilities to contribute to making our society a better place.

There are 60 million 10-year-old girls today, with hopes and dreams for the future. Many, however, do not see how they can make their dreams come true. For example: 

Every day, close to 48,000 girls, many of them as young as age 10, are forced into marriages.

Every day, over 20,000 girls under age 18 give birth. 

Today, 61 million children of primary school age aren’t in school, more than half of them are girls.

One in three girls will experience violence in their lifetime, and many will experience it between age 10 and 19.

We need to change this number by investing in their futures now.

Distinguished guests,

I would like to highlight some key messages coming out of this report:

The State of World Population shows that girls who become an adult with an education and good health, and their rights protected and promoted, would earn three times more money in their life time compared to the girls who do not have those fundamental conditions for a successful life. The research clearly shows that prioritizing young girls’ health and well-being is a good investment.

The State of World Population 2016 shows that our collective future depends on how we support today’s 60 million 10-year-old girls today as they start their journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Today’s 10-year-old girl will be 24 when the deadline for the United Nations’ new development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, comes in 2030.

That development agenda aims for the world where every single person has an opportunity fulfill her or his potential – the world that leaves no one behind.

With support from family, community and nation, and the full realization of her rights, a 10-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future we all want.

Now, I would like to point out that boys play an important role to help girls live a life they want, too. You may have a 10-year-old sister or cousin. In the future, you may become a father of a 10-year-old girl. If you can support young girls’ potential, you will be paving a way for a happier and more prosperious society.

Distinguished guests,

Viet Nam is recording the highest proportion of young people in its history. Young people between the ages of 10 to 24 now represent nearly 40 per cent of the total population. This so-called 'demographic window of opportunity' presents Viet Nam with a unique chance in its history to make this golden period the driver for socio-economic prosperity and for Vietnam’s efforts towards the achievement of the SDGs. We can do so by ensuring that that every young person is well educated and healthy with knowledge and skills to make their dreams come true. We can't afford to let this period be wasted. Now is the time to invest in and support our young people, particularly young girls!

I would like to recommend that you carefully study the 2016 State of World Population Report, which features a Vietnamese girl, Tuong Anh. I seek your assistance in sharing the key messages of this report as widely as possible.

Thank you very much for your attention and participation in this event.

Xin cam on!