Speech UN Resident Coordinator On the Occasion of the Demo Day for Sexual & Reproductive Health ‘AMUA’ Innovation Accelerator
10 August 2017
Representatives from the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children
Representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office
Dr. Hashina Begun, Representative of UNFPA and UN staff
Members of the diplomatic community
Representative of UKaid and Development partners in Tanzania
Civil Society Organizations, Young people, Media houses present here today, Ladies and gentlemen
Habari za Asubuhi na Asalaam aleykhum!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the UN system in Tanzania, I am delighted to join you for this important event. This event is part of our commitment and support to improve the lives of young people and to ensure they reach their full potential. I thank my colleagues from UNFPA for the leadership in ensuring that this initiative is implemented in Tanzania for the benefits of young people. It is one of many important activities of our UN Development Assistance Plan, or UNDAP for Tanzania.
As you are aware the generation of young people aged 10-24 is the largest ever in history - 1.8 billion strong. Ninety percent of those young people live in developing countries like Tanzania. Forty four percent of people in Tanzania are below 15 years, and 19% of the population is aged 15-24 making 63% under the age of 24 according to the 2012 Census.
This indicates also a high dependency ratio because there are more people in what is called the non-producing age structure, the children and the elderly. For Tanzania to realize its Vision 2025 and become a middle-income country, the right policies and strategies should be in place to enable the country’s age structure turn into an opportunity to reap the demographic dividend. We need to take advantage of this, now. Tanzania is a pre-Demographic Dividend country and has all the potential to reap the benefits.
Failure to invest in this huge youthful population has also an implication on the country’s health and development plans as it is likely to put increasing demands on provision of social services. A large workforce which is a guarantee (will be a plus to the economy, especially if these young people will have access to reproductive health information and services to enable them make the right informed choices. Choices that will help them to realize their full potential as responsible citizens.
Ladies and gentlemen
Several barriers contribute to the complex situation that adolescents and young people are facing in Tanzania, that is, a lack of appropriate and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, information and services for sexually transmitted infections including HIV and AIDs, and pregnancy-related issues which means many adolescents and youth still do not know how to, nor do they possess the means, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from getting HIV. This situation is aggravated by taboos surrounding provision of SRH information and education by adults including parents, teachers and health service providers’ attitude towards provision of adolescent SRH information, counselling and services.
To complement the Government of Tanzania efforts in addressing the youth SRH challenges, the UN system through UNFPA launched and supported the implementation of the innovation accelerator to find some solutions to one of the pressing SRH issue in the country – Teenage pregnancy.
This Innovation Accelerator initiative will significantly contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is reflected in a number of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular: Goal 4 that refers to the enhancement of youth education, including vocational training for employment and entrepreneurship through mentorship; Goal 8 that refers to supporting entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and to encouraging the formalization and growth of enterprises through access to financial services. Partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society are key to achieving the SDGs.
The vision of achieving people centred economic growth as reflected by the SDGs requires inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre. Such requirement is explicitly stated in SDG goal 17 and specifically addressed by the Innovation Accelerator. Through creation of partnerships aimed at mobilizing private resources and using them to support young entrepreneurs in developing innovative and scalable solutions to development challenges that organisations and governments can adopt.
In order to measure progress across the Sustainable Development Goals that relate to adolescents and youth an adolescent girl who is 10 years old today will be an adult of 24 in 2030, the target year for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We must ensure that her path through adolescence and youth leads to a brighter future for herself, her community and the world – that is paved with rights upheld, opportunities realized and promises fulfilled.
I urge private sector, the Government, donors and all investors present today and those who will be watching this event to find possibilities to support the ideas generated from the AMUA accelerator which will not go through the final pitching today. Most of the ideas can be developed to viable product for the benefit of the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Investing in a healthier and more educated population and enabling young people to access opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, will provide young Tanzanians with a favourable environment to thrive in business and private life, and to make informed and safe decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
The UN system in Tanzania will continue to support the government of Tanzania and other partners to test and scale up some of these new and engaging ways to tackle pressing sexual and reproductive health challenges in the country while promoting social entrepreneurship among young people to achieve the global goals for sustainable development.
Asanteni kwa kunisikiliza na khila la khery!