Population anxieties are becoming widespread, and governments are increasingly adopting policies aimed at raising, lowering, or maintaining fertility rates, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says
The report, “8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The Case for rights and Choices”, discloses that governments keen on adopting such policies are “ineffective and can erode women’s rights.”
Humanity becoming #8BillionStrong is a reminder of the world’s infinite possibilities and the urgent need to safeguard reproductive rights and choices.
— Dr. Natalia Kanem /she/her/ella/ (@Atayeshe) April 19, 2023
Findings from the UNFPA report show that 44 per cent of partnered women and girls in 68 reporting countries do not have the right to make informed decisions about their bodies when it comes to having sex, using contraception, and seeking health care; and an estimated 257 million women worldwide have an unmet need for safe, reliable contraception.
The 2023 State of World Population found that 24 per cent of partnered women and girls are unable to say no to sex, and 11 per cent are unable to make specific decisions about contraception, according to data from 68 reporting countries.
Published annually since 1978, The State of World Population Report brings to the fore emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights and explores the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.
“Women’s bodies should not be held captive to population targets,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.
“To build thriving and inclusive societies, regardless of population size, we must radically rethink how we talk about and plan for population change.”
The report recommends governments institute policies with gender equality and rights at their heart, such as parental leave programmes, child tax credits, policies that promote gender equality in the workplace, and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“These offer a proven formula that will reap economic dividends and lead to resilient societies able to thrive no matter how populations change”, it says.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the right to health, the right to privacy, the right to education, and the prohibition of discrimination.”
For instance, Kenya has put in place legislation to advance sexual reproduction and health rights (SRHR) as part of achieving universal health coverage.
However, the African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET) says practice on the ground shows gaps in Kenya’s SRHR.
Article 43 of the Kenyan Constitution guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive health.
In addition, the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy aims to enhance the SRH status of adolescents in Kenya and contribute towards the realization of their full potential in national development.
The policy intends to bring adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights issues into the country’s mainstream health and development agenda.