Robert Wm Blum, Jo Boyden, Annabel Erulkar, Caroline Kabiru, Siswanto Agus Wilopo

Achieving Gender Equality Requires Placing Adolescents at the Center

Today, there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10e24 years or one quarter of the world’s population, 86% of whom live in lowand middle-income countries [1]. In many ways, this is good newsdone of the greatest legacies of the Millennium Development Goals is the reduction in infant and child mortality worldwide from 12.7 per 1,000 in 1990 to 5.9 in 2015 [2]. During that same period, child survival was not matched, however, with declining birth rates; so too, investments in the first 1,000 were not matched with investments in the first 8,000 days of life [3]. As a consequence, large segments of the global population of young people have not been beneficiaries of global economic growth, and now large segments of this same population face steep challenges that threaten its developmental and economic potential. In many corners of the world, crushing poverty and a dearth of opportunity constrain both individual and national development, adversely impacting the prospects of adolescents more than any other age group. Going forward, as fertility rates decrease, and a country’s working-age population grows relative to its dependent population, there is a window of opportunity for rapid economic growth if the right social and economic investments and policies are made in health, education, governance, and the economy [3]. However, realizing this dividend will require that all segments and genders of the population to be equal beneficiaries.