Panafrican News Agency

UNFPA launches State of World Population Report 2023

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Tuesday launched the state of World Population Report 2023, on World Population Day.

The theme for this year is: “Unleashing the power of gender equality: uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilities.”

The statement made available to PANA stated that in November 2022, the world population eclipsed 8 billion people. Many people saw this as a milestone to be celebrated.

“Evidence is that we are living longer, healthier lives," it said. However, alongside this news, the UN also announced that two-thirds of people were residing in regions where fertility rates had declined below the so-called "replacement level" of 2.1 births per woman, the statement said.

Many commentators say that "too many" people would overwhelm the planet, while others expressed concern that "too few" people would cause civilization to crumble.

"The question is not whether the human population is too large or too small. The question is: can everyone exercise their fundamental human right to choose the number and spacing of their children?"

As well as marking World Population Day, the UNFPA’s global flagship State of World Population Report 2023: “8 billion lives, infinite possibilities: the case for rights and choices,” was also launched.

This report calls for the focus to be on the rights and choices of the individual woman, rather than slipping into an anxious narrative which exaggerates and blames.

With little recognition of the agency of those giving birth, birth rates are often identified as a problem and a solution.

Sadly, the most recent data from 68 countries shows that an estimated 44% of women who are in relationships are unable to make decisions about their health or their use of contraception. As a result, a woman's fundamental human right to choose freely and responsibly how many children she wants to have is violated by the fact that about half of all pregnancies are unintended.

"Today, climate change, pandemics, conflicts, mass displacement, economic uncertainty, and other issues fuel concerns about over- and under-population. Yet human reproduction is neither the problem nor the solution," the report said.

It said the advancing gender equality is an often-overlooked solution to many of these concerns.

It added that the most efficient strategy to increase productivity and income growth in aging, low-fertility nations with labour productivity issues is to achieve gender parity in the workforce.

The report said empowerment via education and family planning is known to pay off greatly in the form of economic growth and the development of human capital in countries with high fertility rates.

"To achieve complete equality, dignity, and opportunity, UNFPA is urging further efforts to realise bodily autonomy and support sexual and reproductive health and rights for all."

-0- PANA MSS/MA 11July2023