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Towards Realizing the Full Potential of Adolescents and Youth

Today’s adolescents and youth are 1.8 billion strong and one quarter of the world’s population. They are shaping social and economic development, challenging social norms and values, and building the foundation of the world’s future. Maturing earlier than previous generations, both physically and socially, adolescents and youth have high expectations for themselves and their societies, and are imagining how the world can be better. Connected to each other as never before through new media and because of globalization, they are driving social progress and directly influencing the sustainability and the resilience of their communities and of their nations. While notable progress has been made, many adolescents– especially girls – are denied the investments and opportunities that they require to realize their full potential. For example, 26% of girls (39 million) and 17% of boys of secondary school age (11-15) were not enrolled in school in 2008. 1 About 215 million underage children work full or part-time, 2 while 75 million older youth (15-24) cannot find work.