NZ MPs want Pacific focus on sex education

Pacific governments are being asked to prioritise education on sexual and reproductive health.

RNZI reports New Zealand's Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development made the call on World Population Day yesterday, which has the theme 'Investing in Teenage Girls.'

The chair of the cross party body, National MP Barbara Kuriger, said parts of the Pacific have some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world.

She said while there is better access to knowledge of reproductive health in the region much more needs to be done, especially if all Pacific countries are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

"Last year we ran an open forum which was based around sexual reproduction and men's and boys' responsibility, and I think [because of ] the lack of knowledge in young people we would like it in the curriculum."

"We would like young people to understand what it is about before they start experimenting themselves because that is when it goes wrong," she said.

Sustainable Development Goal 5.6 calls for governments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

The United Nations Population Fund says investing in teenage girls is smart economics.

It said the move would ensure a country benefits fully from all its human resources but much still needs to be done to ensure adolescent girls reach their full potential.

The UNFPA Pacific director, Dr Laurent Zessler said every teenage girl has the right to a safe and successful transition into adulthood and the right to embrace the opportunities that the future holds for them.

Dr Zessler said to invest in your teenage girls is to unlock so much more potential to support national progress and ensure no one is left behind.