Boys and girls usually enter adulthood having experienced differences in the duration and content of schooling, having taken up different work roles in the home and workplace, and having been offered different opportunities for community participation.
Furthermore, young women typically assume adult family roles sooner than young men because they marry younger, while young men often assume more public adult roles sooner through their participation in work and their greater opportunities for leadership in schools, communities, work, and sports.
The development of a global youth culture is facilitated by the growing accessibility of international media and the Internet but at the same time fully effective connectivity requires adequate income to afford access, language competency, and computer literacy—skills that are hard for many young people to acquire without more and better schooling opportunities.
Later ages of marriage and childbearing increase opportunities for further schooling, but they also increase the time during which adolescents are exposed to premarital pregnancy and childbearing.
These broad statements capture only the average tendencies for young people in developing countries.
At the same time that young people everywhere are becoming part of a more integrated world, at least some people in every country are experiencing transitions to adulthood that increasingly resemble those that are typical of young people in developed countries.Adolescents and young adults whose lives are affected by these changes can be beneficiaries when they are prepared for them but can also bear their scars if they are not.Those who do not feel the immediate impact of these changes will nonetheless be affected indirectly as the overall pace and pervasiveness of change continue to accelerate.While young people—a term used in this report to capture this phase of the life cycle roughly equivalent to the age range 10 to 24—have little opportunity to affect the speed and direction of change, some will soon be taking responsibility for its management as adults.Their success in making a well-timed and proficient transition from childhood to adulthood will fundamentally affect the extent to which they will be able to become active participants in and beneficiaries of global change in the future.Trends in poverty rates vary across regions, with big declines in Asia but an increase in poverty in Africa.In the panel’s view, the successful achievement by 2015 of many of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals will require that policy makers center their attention on adolescents (see Box 1-1).However, that promise cannot be realized without certain legal rights and protections and supportive institutions, including good schools, a sufficient number of remunerative and satisfying jobs, the opportunity for community participation and political voice, the absence of discrimination, good nutrition and health, access to health services, and, for women, a choice about freedom from premature marriage and childbearing.Barriers to mobility have lessened due to reduced costs of transportation and increasingly available means of transportation at the same time that greater access to information conveys news of a wider range of geographic opportunities for schooling, jobs, and marriage partners.Although gender role socialization begins at birth, it has generally led to an increasingly sharp differentiation of roles, behaviors, and expectations beginning at the time boys and girls experience puberty and continuing through the assumption of adult roles.This process of socialization is reinforced through social norms, laws, and institutions that in many countries progressively restrict the mobility and public participation of adolescent girls and in some settings makes them seemingly invisible while providing expanded liberties, opportunities, and agency for adolescent boys.