THE World Population Day was observed yesterday on a theme of momentous, and precisely, far-reaching importance for Bangladesh. The key words of emphasis are 'engage youth and invest in them for good future for all.' This focus has been not only long overdue and so pressingly timely but also they hit the nail on its head
Having pursued a population policy that had been effective in implementation for a few decades, we lost our way as it dropped off our sight and deflected away from the mainstream. Resultantly, we witnessed an explosion of the idle youth with a seamless baby boom for years. Little wonder, therefore, that we are today left with a population whose one-third is either unemployed or underemployed.
Despite advanced female enrolment and achievements in education they are more unemployed than their male counterparts. Then there are rural-urban differentiations in terms of education and employability or actual employment. Of the national employment rate at 4.53 percent male youth constitutes 6.8 percent vis-à-vis female youth at 8.5 percent.
The idle youth and disparities along gender and urban- rural lines create social tension and a susceptibility to a certain waywardness breeding lack of confidence in future.
On the contrary, the youth between 15 and 29 years who constitute one fourth of the population can and should be turned into an asset through education and skill training. All we need is youth-centred population and economic management policies going hand in hand for reaping demographic dividends. That way we can harness the tremendous potential of youth power.