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One billion adolescents:
The right to health, information and services

By Tahiat-E-Mahboob

All young people have a right to health, including reproductive health, and the information and services to make this right a reality. This is especially urgent in the fight against FHV/AIDS. UNFPA supports national efforts to ensure that young people can make informed, responsible decisions and lead healthy, productive lives." -Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA
July 11 was declared as World Population Day (WPD). The organisation that holds the reigns in creating awareness about world population around the world, better known as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is now carrying on a full-fledged program that not only creates awareness all over the world but also helps people through better knowledge and proper educational guidance on improving productive health status, women empowerment and no doubt the importance of world population, etc.
Each year has it's own theme and as the name and the words of Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA suggests, this year's theme is: Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights. More than one billion young people are between the ages of 15 and 24. They need supportive relationships and respect. In return, the world needs their active participation.
1000,000,000 adolescents are about to enter their reproductive years in 2003. It is a critical time for all and a fatal one for most. This is because due to lack of proper, guidance, education and knowledge adolescents all over the world are not aware of reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and their own rights regarding these matters. Over 500,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth- many young girls. Fifty percent of all new HIV infections are among young people especially girls. The UNFPA works to ensure safe passage into adulthood for millions of young people. At the International Parliamentarians' Conference (IPCI/ICPD) in Ottawa, Canada, elected representatives from 72 countries and territories pledged to save adolescents' lives by giving them the education, opportunities and services that are vital for their health. This pledge is a part of UNFPA's mission: protect and empower the young to safeguard humanity's future. Based on this year's theme (Adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights) WPD will focus on mainly three areas:
Adolescent reproductive health
Youth Participation.
The UNFPA's aim this year is to teach teenagers and adolescents about reproductive health and HIV and encourage them to participate. With limited knowledge about their bodies, adolescents are vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, exploitation and violence. Both girls and boys suffer when denied access to needed information and services. Early marriage often leads to early childbearing, which not only limits life opportunities but also carries serious health risks. HIV/AIIDS can only be stopped by educating, empowering and mobilizing young people. Every day nearly 6,000 young people become infected with HIV. Young women and adolescent girls are highly vulnerable. Prevention works. Trends are reversing where national programs aim to prevent infection among young people. Most of the world's young people live in developing areas. Young people can shape the future of their countries. They are making a difference as peer educators helping others avoid unwanted pregnancy and STIs, as actors in plays on HIV/AIDS prevention, and as speakers asking politicians to listen. They need a voice in decisions that affect their lives. And the UNFPA is working to create that voice specially through the World Population Day this year to make adolescents aware.
The UNFPA has already seen success. In Mongolia, all secondary schools are now required to teach a course on sexuality education, designed by local professionals with UNFPA support. In Sierra Leone, UNFPA is providing life-saving information and services to females of all ages who were abducted and raped during the conflict and to other war-effected youth as well. After the civil war, the country faces new enemy in HIV/AIDS. Young people's involvement also shaped an important National Adolescent and Youth Policy for the Dominican Republic. Invited to participate in the drafting process, carried out with UNFPA support, young people gained recognition as a national resource and positive force.
Bangladesh is probably not far away from reaching similar success. And to bring this about, the organisation has arranged a series of activities and programs that begin on the 9th of July with discussions, round table discussions with young people (10 July), debates and TV program and then culminate on 12th July in a rally that starts from Ramna Park and ends at the National Museum where the State Minister of Youth will speak. People are free to participate in the rally. So show that you care about your health, your country, your world- join the march to awareness and make it a success.
Real success stories inspire action. UNFPA is collecting summaries of reproductive health activities showing positive results, whether with governments, NGOs, schools, community groups or individuals. Please write up your experience and send it to dungus@unfpa.org or this address: United Nations Population Fund Information, Executive Board and Resource Mobilization Division 220 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017, USA Telephone: +1 (212) 297-5020 Facsimile: +1 (212) 557-6416 Web site: http://www.unfpa.org

By Nusrat

Having stepped into the "Age of Technology" our lives have been conquered by the latest inventions. Everywhere -- at home, in schools and colleges, at workplaces --- we are surrounded by electronic gadgets that rule our lives. They are so addicting that some of us cannot even think of living without these. But what happens when these devices go temporarily out of order?
Take the Internet for instance. Browsing, mailing, chatting through the Internet has become an essential part of our everyday life. In the present age, even children are getting addicted to the Internet. The world of cyberspace is totally different from our real world. It is a place where we let ourselves loose and communicate with different people across the globe. (Hmm… pretty cool way of socializing!) Some people are now forgetting other pass-times and hobbies and are practically living on the computer -- in their "cyber worlds". One day without the Internet may sometimes drive people crazy. "Oh dear, I won't be able to check mail!" or "Oh my goodness! It seems that I haven't talked to my MSN pals for ages" -- could be the remarks of these distressed people. Similarly, we have become so much dependent on the computer that some of us stay glued onto the computer screen for hours together. The usual activities comprise of watching movies, listening to music, playing games and such. People even do their office work, assignments, homework, schools projects etc. on the computer. Imagine the pain of writing out your school projects by hand, if your computer was not working.
Another essential but addicting device is the telephone. "Ring, ring…." -- oh, there is another call. It may be an important call or a call from a friend just to chat. There are people who sit with the phone, chatting and gossiping for hours. Then again if your phone is out of order, you may miss necessary phone calls or miss the long chats with your friends. The advent of cell phones has furthered the chatting spree. Now calling people and talking to them is possible from nearly every nook and corner of the world.
The television, another outstanding invention is surely an effective media, which keeps us enlightened about the worldly affairs. The news channels and some of the other channels keep us well informed about the world, but now a days more and more entertainment channels are being introduced. Thus TV has become a major form of entertainment for people of all ages and groups. It is because of the different movies, soap operas, talk shows and such other programmes, that people have become hooked onto this electronic media. I think that there are countless people who sit and watch TV practically all day long, not willing to miss a single programme.
It is almost becoming impossible to live without these electronic gadgets, in this age. We are becoming so dependent upon these that even if they are plugged off for a few minutes, we start feeling restless. They are dominating our lives. It is okay to use these for entertaining us for a short period of our leisure time, but actually we have dedicated our entire free time to these devices. It is very true that nowadays, we are becoming so busy that we cannot even find enough space in our tight schedules, to include some 'family time'. But even the minimal amount of leisure time we do get is spent either in front of the TV watching a serial or in front of the computer logged onto the Internet. These electronic media are turning out to be isolating devices, which binds us around themselves and thus discouraging us from spending our leisure time in other ways. Lost are the good old days when people used to spend their leisure time with their families, either by going out somewhere or just by sitting at home conversing amongst themselves. Now even if people have some time left for spending with their families, most of them usually sit in front of the TV watching the various programmes. You may ask what is wrong with watching a good programme with your family? Yes, in that way you would be spending time with your family, but how are you enjoying "family time" when all you are doing is just sitting in front of the TV, watching the programme and hardly even saying a word to each other. So family or no family does not make much difference. Today this how people define "quality family time". (Maybe naming the television an "idiot box" was the right thing after all!)
The world today has become a totally "wired" place. There are electronic gadgets and wires everywhere. It is almost like living in a series circuit, so that if these gadgets are unplugged, our lives get plugged out too! But the sad truth is that we are seriously becoming entangled in this vicious mesh of wires, that it is almost equivalent to being held captives, far away from our families and relatives. The network of wires we are tangled in have now bound us very tightly. It is high time now that we disentangle ourselves from this web. I do not mean to completely stop using these gadgets, but to limit ourselves from getting too much absorbed into them.


Book Review


Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix

By Tahiat-E-Mahboob

The good news is I have read it! The bad news is a lot of you have not! So here I am to provide you with an appetizer so that when you do get your copy, the feast will be more enjoyable. No do not worry! I am not going to spoil it for you. The fifth book in line, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix starts off from where it left in the Goblet of Fire. This book is bigger, badder (gosh my pathetic English!) and fatter with seven sixty-six pages and thirty-eight chapters. The first thing that happened to me was that I finally fell in love with Harry Potter especially now that he has turned fifteen and all.
And from the book it seems so have others. The second thing that happened was that I also fell in love with Sirius Black. He's like one of those James Bond, Hugh Jackman, Wolverine and David Copperfield combinations that knock you out like a lethal injection!
Third, you simply can't put the book down. J.K. Rowlings has put in more knots into the plot than any Gordian and French knot combined (whatever that's supposed to mean!) Fourth, for a while Harry does knock his head (metaphorically duh!) and does some stupid things and thinks some stupid thoughts that make me detest him for a teeny winy while in the course of the book. Fifth, remember that obnoxious teacher that you always hated in school? Well Rowlings has certainly introduced a certain Dolores Jane Umbridge to get Harry acquainted with how you feel. Trust me, next to her, Snape is a grouchy wet teddy bear with a bad hairdo. That being said, remember what potter said to Dumbledore in the Goblet of Fire about Volde- oops You-Know-Who coming back? Well, that is exactly what the story is compounded on.
I won't say that you must read it because duh! Does that need to be said- of course you have to read it. So get a copy NOW! It's available at Etcetra and mind you it costs a pretty penny (1600 bucks!) Now don't be stingy!



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