Family planning unlocks unpunprecedented rewards for economic development

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The State of World Population 2012 was released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The theme of this years report is By Choice, Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development.

The Report shows clearly that family planning delivers immeasurable rewards to women, families, and communities around the world. By enabling individuals to choose the number and spacing of their children, family planning has allowed women, and their children, to live healthier, longer lives. Looking ahead, if an additional 120 million obtained access to family planning, the report estimates 3 million fewer babies would die in their first year of life.

Increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment. For example, one third of the growth of Asian tiger economies is attributed to a demographic shift in which the number of income-generating adults became higher than those who depended on them for support. This shift, says the report, was a consequence of fertility decline and brought increased productivity, leading to economic development in the region.

The benefits are also not just economic. The report finds that the costs of ignoring the right to family planning include poverty, exclusion, poor health and gender inequality. The report finds that globally, financial resources for family planning have declined and contraceptive use has remained mostly steady. In 2010, donor countries fell $500 million short of their expected contribution to sexual and reproductive health services in developing countries. Contraceptive prevalence has increased globally by just 0.1 per cent per year over the last few years.

However, there are signs of progress. In July 2012, at the London Summit on Family Planning, donor countries and foundations together pledged $2.6 billion to make family planning available to 120 million women in developing countries with unmet needs by 2020. Developing countries themselves pledged $2 billion. But, according to the report, more is needed each year to meet the unmet needs for family planning.

However, money is just one part of the solution. To ensure that every persons right to family planning is realized, the report also calls on governments and leaders to:

Take or reinforce a rights-based approach to family planning
Secure an emphasis on family planning in the global sustainable development agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals in 2015
Ensure equality by focusing on specific excluded groups
Raise the funds to invest fully in family planning.

Mr. Rabbi Royan, UNFPA Country Representative in launching the Report to the press expressed that the issue of the family planning is extremely relevant to Pakistan as the fertility rate remains very high. There is a need to see the clear linkages between birth-spacing and development and the benefits of slower population growth. Family planning can have a positive multiplier effect on development. It is important that provincial and federal authorities demonstrate their full commitment through sustained and prioritized allocation of additional resources to family planning services and commodities. If the current fertility rate persists, Pakistan may lose the opportunity to benefit from the demographic dividend. By enabling married couple to choose the number and spacing of births, voluntary family planning would allow women, and their children to live healthier and longer lives, said Mr. Royan.


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