Sarai’s story reminds me of youth around the world and the youth problem facing the world today. With the largest population of youth ever in history, youth who are unschooled and unemployed are susceptible to contributing to increases in teenage pregnancies, violence, poverty, etc. Other youth problems include the urban-rural divide, delayed marriage, age/gender discrimination, etc. According to the 2012 UN World Youth Report, in 2009, the global youth unemployment rate saw a peak at 75.8 million unemployed youth. In 2010, the global youth unemployment rate was 12.6%. And in 2011, the UK’s unemployed youth numbers reached 1 million where the youth unemployment rates in Spain and Greece were 48.9 and 45.1% respectively. So it is a problem in developed and developing economies alike.
You know, however, that I don’t like to share sad stories alone. I like to find the stories of hope sometimes hidden among the heaps of bad news. The United Nation Foundation has a programme called the Girl Up campaign in which American girls are invited to raise funds for other girls around the developing world. It’s one thing for someone older than you or further along than you to give you help, but it is even more powerful when like-minded people who have clear commonalities help each other, when a peer helps you. So I love the idea of girls helping other girls. If you think adolescents and youth have problems, consider adding the associated challenges of being female in certain parts of the world. I hate that there are girls who experience the lack of education due to taking care of the food/water and dealing with all the household issues; I hate how girls are abused and raped, how they must go through forced marriages at young ages, how they deal with "female circumcision" which—let’s be honest—is just genital mutilation, and how they are prostituted around the world. From a lack of sanitary pads to fistulas, from higher HIV susceptibility to beatings, from human trafficking to lack of family planning education, from early childbirth to lack of control over birth control, finances, and savings. Study after study has shown that one of the most effective interventions you can perform in international development work is educating a girl because it affects so many things. Through Girl Up around the world, girls who struggle to see a doctor or to enroll in school are provided with access to school supplies, health services, clean water, safety from violence, and more. Read the story of Priyanka Jain, an 18-year-old teen advisor to the UN Foundation Girl Up Campaign and founder and president of iCAREweCARE.