Family planning empowers women—UN study
MANILA, Philippines – Family planning is an “effective means” of “empowering women to make them more economically productive, a United Nations (UN) study said.
UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Doctor Babatunde Osotimehin said in a statement released Wednesday that “family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development.”
“Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women,” Osotimehin said.
“Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labour-force participation boosts nations’ economies,” he said.
UNFPA released the results of their study named “The State of World Population 2012”, which said that “population growth is generally highest in the poorest countries, where fertility preferences are the highest, where governments lack the resources to meet the increasing demand for services and infrastructure, where jobs growth is not keeping pace with the number of new entrants into the labour force, and where many population groups face great difficulty in accessing family planning information and services.”
Senator Pia Cayetano, during a media forum at the Senate, cited the study as reason for the need to pass the Reproductive Health Bill, which was awaiting amendments from at least two senators.
“The studies are very clear, population is directly related to development,” Cayetano said.
“What good is a high population of people who are not educated and who are ignorant. All they will do is feed a feudal society. They have no skill, they have no education, they will not be able to improve their standard of life,” she said.
The UNFPA study indicated that as of 2012 the country’s population was 96.5 million with an annual growth rate of 1.7 percent. Cayetano said that this was high compared to the Philippines’ neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
Indonesia had a growth rate of 1.0, Malaysia had 1.6, Vietnam had 1.0, and Thailand had 0.5. Cayetano pointed out that Thailand had implemented a population management program 15 years ago thats why they now had lower population growth rates.
In terms of fertility rate, or number of children born per woman, the Philippines has a rate of 3.1 while neigboring countries Malaysia had 2.6, Vietnam had 1.7, and Thailand has 1.5.
“You compare that and we ask ourselves how come we are not competitive with our neighboring countries? Look how many mouths we have to feed and we continue this terrible cycle of parents giving birth to children they cannot take care of,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said that the Philippines had the same fertility rates as less developed countries Gabon (3.2), Haiti (3.2), Honduras (3.0), Lesotho (3.1), Namibia (3.1), Pakistan (3.2), and Zimbabwe (3.1).
“We refuse to acknowledge that women and families have a right to plan their families and the population is directly related to development. So what is the challenge? I challenge the leadership of this country to take a more positive, a more pro-active position on this issue,” Cayetano said.
The study said that if people were ensured the right to family planning, it would “ultimately accelerate a country’s progress towards reducing poverty and achieving development goals.”
To read the full UNFPA report, visit their website at http://www.unfpa.org/
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