Hanoi, Vietnam -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/13/2013 -- August 30th saw International Youth Day celebrated in Laos and The Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other government partners in attendance at a event at the Teacher's Training Institute in the Province of Savannakhet. The second largest city in the country celebrated the day by hosting an event that featured music, dance, and drama performances by artists such as pop-singer Aluna, Hopping and Fang Lao. The drama company TK performed as did a host of other local artists.
The International Youth Day focussed on the youth of the country and in particular the girls. The country is helping young Laotian girls believe that they can be a driving force in the development of the country. Ms. Sally Sakulka, Sexual & Reproductive health co-ordinator from the United Nations Population Fund, said, "The Youth are shaping the country's present and future. The opportunities and choices young people make during adolescence will enable them to begin adulthood as empowered, active citizens. But, this is only if all of us can help them make those choices and give them a chance to grow up as responsible human beings. More than ever, we need to put young people on the agenda of national development, in particular, the National Socio-Economic Plan”.
In recent years the government of Laos has made huge strides in implementing methods to assist young people achieve higher standards of living. In education, the gap between boys and gilrs has been significantly reduced. Sexual health matters have certainly improved significantly and job opportunities for young people have increased.
It is not all good news, however. Whilst there has been significant improvements in Laos, the country still faces a number of difficult challenges. The recent Lao Social Indicator Survey shows that the country has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in Southeast Asia, at 94 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19. Forty percent of girls are either mothers or pregnant with their first child before their twentieth birthday. 23% of these married young women expressed a wish to plan and space their births. They claim that they cannot do so, because of the lack of access to family planning information and services. They are, as a result, at a higher risk of complications and even death during pregnancy and childbirth.
About International Youth Day
International Youth Day was designated by the United Nations in 1999 and is celebrated globally. Concerts, workshops, meetings and cultural events take place in many different countries. Laos, certainly played its part in recognising this event. The employment futures of its young people will mark out the way in which the country is guided in the future. Political inclusion is a hugely important factor, moving forward. In order for this to happen, Laos needs young people, who are healthy in body and mind. Sexual awareness and related reproductive issues need to be tackled with more vigour. However, the country is certainly moving in the right direction, and the future for its youth, looks brighter than ever.
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