Young people have been disproportionately hit by the economic downturn. Youth are just 25 percent of the global workforce but they may comprise up to 40 percent of the unemployed. And unemployed youth are more likely to live in poverty or be at-risk for crime. This was our focus Thursday in a session called "Jumpstarting Jobs".
This is a tough challenge for any country, rich or poor, but we do have some of the answers. We need to get children on the right track from the very beginning. It starts with investing in pregnancy with healthy mothers, proper nutrition for infants in the critical window of the first 2 years of life, and early childhood development programs for cognitive stimulation. Ninety percent of our brain development takes place before age 6, so if we don't invest properly in these early years, the damage may be irreparable.