United Nations Population Fund recently released State of World Population 2019 report named as unfinished business: the pursuit of rights and choices for all
• The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is a UN organization.
• UNFPA began operations in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (the name was changed in 1987) under the administration of the United Nations Development Fund. In 1971 it was placed under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly
• UNPF work involves the improvement of reproductive health; including creation of national strategies and protocols, and birth control by providing supplies and services
• The organization has recently been known for its worldwide campaign against child marriage, obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation.
- State of World Population report released annually by United Nations Population Fund
- The 2019 State of the World Population Report reflects on the current state of sexual and reproductive health and rights 50 years after the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was established.
- It also marks 25 years of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, where 179 governments agreed on a rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health to address population growth
- The report highlights the impact of war, climate change, migration and disasters on women’s and girls’ reproductive rights
- The report includes, for the first time, data on women’s (aged between 15-49) ability to make decisions over three key areas: sexual intercourse with their partner, contraception use and health care.
• Women’s sexual and reproductive autonomy was greatest in two countries: the Philippines and Ukraine, where 81 per cent of women are empowered to make these decisions for themselves.
• It was lowest in three countries: Mali, Niger and Senegal. In these countries, only 7 per cent of women are able to make their own choices over all three areas.
- The world’s population rose to 7.715 billion in 2019, up from 7.633 billion in 2018, with the global average life expectancy of 72 years.
- The least developed countries recorded the highest population growth, with countries in Africa registering an average of 2.7% a year
- Much of the overall increase in global population till 2050 is projected to occur in high fertility countries, mostly in Africa, or in countries with large populations, such as India and Nigeria.
- Two-thirds of all maternal deaths today occur in sub-Saharan Africa
- The average number of births per woman was 4.8 n 1969, compared with 2.9 in 1994, and 2.5 in 2019.
- Lower fertility rate: In India, total fertility rate per woman was 5.6 in 1969, dropping to 3.7 in 1994 and 2.3 in 2019.
- Improved MMR: Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in the country dropped from 488 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1994 to 174 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
- Access to health care: India scores higher than the global average in terms of access to healthcare during childbirth, and also has a much lower adolescent birth rate. Between 2006 and 2107, 86% of births in India were attended by skilled health personnel, as compared to 79% across the world.
- Improved life expectancy at birth: India recorded an improvement in life expectancy at birth. The life expectancy at birth in 1969 was 47 years, growing to 60 years in 1994 and 69 years in 2019. Though India’s life expectancy at birth is lower than the world’s (69 years to 72)
- High population growth: The world’s population rose to 7.715 billion in 2019, up from 7.633 billion in 2018. India’s population grew at average annual rate of 1.2 per cent between 2010 and 2019. In comparison, China’s population grew at an average annual rate of 0.5 per cent between 2010 and 2019. China’s population stood at 1.42 billion in 2019, growing from 1.23 billion in 1994 and 803.6 million in 1969.
- Early marriage: Early marriage continues to present a major cultural obstacle to female empowerment and better reproductive rights.
- Lack of access to modern contraceptives: Contraceptive prevalence rates are generally lower among the poorest 20% of the population and highest among the richest 20%.
- Access to quality information: There is significant inequality both within and between countries in access to quality health care, information and education.
- Access to Sexual and Reproductive health services: Every day, more than 500 women and girls die during pregnancy and childbirth due to the absence of skilled birth attendants or emergency obstetric procedures. Legal barriers also still exist for people across the globe, including restrictive abortion laws, criminalisation of same-sex relationships, and parental or spousal consent to access services.
- Women’s and girls’ reproductive rights: Reproductive rights are now recognised legally, but little has changed on the ground. Women still account for at least than 93% of total sterilisations, even though male sterilisation is safer, quicker and easier
Report highlights the political changes around population policy. Focus now shifted from controlling population to expanding human rights and reproductive choices.
The absence of reproductive and sexual rights has a major and negative repercussions on women’s education, income and safety, leaving them “unable to shape their own futures “. Threat is further elevated by emergencies caused by conflict or climate disasters.
To ensure rights and choices in people’s lives, all people need and deserve a comprehensive suite of information and services related to sexual and reproductive health.