Today more than 1.2 billion adolescents are coming of age.
Their success and happiness depend on their having access to the support, the role models, the education, the skills, the opportunities and the resources that can empower them to make responsible and healthy choices.
Investing in the well-being and ensuring the participation of the world's largest generation of young people will improve their lives immediately and yield dividends for generations to come .
These numbers show that the world's population has tripled in 72 years, and doubled in 38 years up to the year 1999.
Some estimates say that the human population around AD 950 was 250 million and in 2027 will be 8 billion, and the world population doubled (or will double) in the following years (doubling times in parentheses):
The total population of Rajasthan as at 1st March 2001 stood at 56,473,122.
In terms of population it holds the eighth position among the States and Union territories in the country.
This has registered a growth rate of 28.33% when compared to national average of 21.34% during the decade 1991-2001.
The sex ratio (i.e., the number of females per thousand males) of population in the State has improved from 910 in the previous census to 922 in the current census. The literacy rate in the State has shown a remarkable improvement.
The literacy rate has increased to 61.03% when compared to 38.55% ten years back during 1991 Census.
India is expected to grow from 1.09bn to 1.63bn people, overtaking China, which is forecast to reach 1.44bn from 1.3bn currently
While global population has increased threefold during this century, from 2 billion to 6 billion, the population of India has increased nearly five times from 238 million (23 crores) to 1 billion in the same period.
India's current annual increase in population of 15.5 million is large enough to neutralize efforts to conserve the resource endowment and environment.
The empowerment of young people is integrally linked to promoting and safeguarding their human rights.
A rights-based approach to development recognizes that people become empowered to act on their own behalf and claim their human rights as they gain access to relevant information, skills and opportunities.
For adolescents, this implies progressive measures to remove barriers to the recognition of their needs and realities and the realization of their rights and capacities to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
How young people develop their understanding of the biological, emotional and social changes they experience in adolescence is closely related to their sense of social identity and purpose, self-perception and self-esteem, thoughts and feelings, and capacity to establish caring relationships and intimacy with others.
It is all the more important for young people to receive the guidance and support they need considering that worldwide, most people become sexually active during this stage of life, whether within or outside of marriage.
Adolescence is also a time when risks of sexual and other forms of abuse, exploitation and violence are high.
When the drive for autonomy and self-definition often means a reduced reliance on parents or other adults as trusted sources of guidance and support.
This is especially true when it comes to sensitive areas such as sexual and reproductive health and gender relations.
Without guidance, young people may suffer violence and abuse, be exploited, or find themselves in otherwise unsafe circumstances, or become sexually active without the knowledge and means they need to avoid unintended consequences.
Adolescents have been traditionally ignored by public sector programs and budgets, which tend to focus on children (under 10), and then on adults.
Investing in adolescents is an opportunity to ensure that the earlier investments made in childhood come to fruition for the benefit of national development.
Otherwise, accomplishments in improved child educational and health status may be undermined.
Since the 1990s, many international agreements and forums have brought more attention to the needs of adolescents and young people.
attention to the needs of adolescents and young people.
Because young people today are typically entering puberty at a younger age and getting married later than in the past, they face a longer period between sexual maturity and marriage.
Many young people are raised in the age of global telecommunications and globalization of a ‘youth culture' spread through the mass media.
They often get information, including about sexuality and health, from sources outside of the family, whereas once the family was the traditional institution for imparting social norms about these issues.
Young people tend to have higher levels of educational attainment than in the past, but they also require better education and more skills to compete in today's world, and overcome social exclusion and poverty.
Despite the historical progress in school enrolment, millions of adolescents are outside the school system, or forced to abandon their schooling due to poverty or HIV/AIDS, among other reasons.
Yet today, millions of young people are threatened by poverty, illiteracy, risks of pregnancy and childbirth, and HIV/AIDS.
Today, more than 500 million people aged 15 to 24 live on less than $2 per day; 96 million young women in developing countries do not know how to read or write; and 14 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 become mothers every year.
Every day, 6,000 young people are newly infected with HIV.
These challenges lie at the heart of goals set by world leaders to reduce poverty and improve health and well-being.
It is clear that the Millennium Development Goals will not be met unless young people are actively involved in policymaking and programming, their voices are heard, their needs are met and their human rights are respected.