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Young People Are Subject of World Population Day

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The world has more than six thousand million people. Almost half are under the age of twenty-five. This year's World Population Day on July eleventh dealt with the subject of young people and the problems many face. Poverty, crime, barriers to education and jobs, AIDS -- the list goes on.

A message from the United Nations secretary-general said the lives of young people are shaped by forces beyond their control. Yet today's young people also know more about the lives led by others their age around the world. Kofi Annan says as a result many are demanding action to narrow the divide between rich and poor.

He says there is a clear need to answer the calls for measures to improve the lives of all. He says information and services related to sexual and reproductive health are especially important for youth empowerment. He noted that these are often overlooked.

Kofi Annan says providing for young people is not just a moral duty, but an economic necessity.

The United Nations Population Fund has estimated that about half of all unemployed people are between fifteen and twenty-four years old. And it says many young people who do find work are trapped in low-wage jobs with few chances to learn skills.

The Youth Employment Summit Campaign was launched in two thousand two. This ten-year campaign known as YES aims to create programs and policies that lead to more jobs. Young activists lead the campaign with support from the U.N. Population Fund and other organizations.

The next world meeting of the YES Campaign will be held in September in Kenya. About two thousand representatives, from more than one hundred twenty countries, are expected to attend. Half will be young people.

The International Labor Organization says people younger than sixteen should not work. But the I.L.O. also says it recognizes this is not always possible. A family’s economic survival may depend on the labor of its younger members.

Still, the U.N. agency reported in May that child labor has decreased worldwide for the first time. The levels fell by an estimated eleven percent between two thousand and two thousand four. The report said the end of child labor is within reach. And it called on countries to work to end the worst forms of child labor within ten years.

With the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss, this is Shep O'Neal. Transcripts and archives of our reports are at