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Increased support needed for young girls in developing countries – Mitchell

By May 17, 2011News

News – 18 May 2011

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South, Olivia Mitchell has called for increased focus within the overseas development sector on supporting young, vulnerable women in developing countries.

Speaking following her attendance at a global development summit with 70 parliamentarians from across the globe, ahead of the 2011 G8/G20 Summits, Deputy Mitchell said investing in young vulnerable girls is smart economics.

The purpose of the meeting was to highlight to world leaders the importance of improving women's and children's health in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Deputy Mitchell attended the meeting as a representative of the Irish All Party Group on Sexual & Reproductive Rights, Health, Population and Development. An IFPA representative also attended the summit.

"In a worldwide recession it is vital that overseas aid is targeted to where it can do most good. Evidence clearly illustrates that investment in health and particularly the health of young girls can yield dramatic and long term benefits for their communities.

"The clear message emanating from the summit is that targeting investment in young vulnerable women in the poorer regions must be a priority. For instance, we know that in Ethiopia some 40% of girls aged between 14 and 19 are either pregnant or have already had their first child. Child marriages and early pregnancies dramatically increase the chance of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

“If young girls can stay longer in school and postpone parenthood, at least until 18, then there will be better health and economic outcomes for them, their future children and their communities.

"When money is in short supply, investment decision must be evidence based. The clear evidence is that investing in young vulnerable girls is not only good for them and for their families, it is also smart economics."

The event, hosted in the French Assembly, was addressed by members of development organisations, national governments and the scientific community. Speakers of note included Deputy executive Director of the United Nation Population Fund Mari Simonen and maternal health activist and former supermodel Christy Turlington Burns.

Read more about the summit here