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Home » State Of World Population 2018 THE POWER OF CHOICE: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION

State Of World Population 2018 THE POWER OF CHOICE: REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION

Source: 
United Nations Population Fund
Authors: 
United nations Population Fund
Geographic Area: 
International
Year Published: 
2018
Funded By: 
United nations Population Fund
Type of research: 
Qualitative&Quantitative
Abstract: 

 

Not so long ago, most people had large families: five children, on average. Where once there was one global fertility rate, today there are many, with differences wider than at any point in human history. Family size, whether small or large, is intertwined with reproductive rights, which are tied to many other rights, such as those to health and education, adequate income, the freedom to make choices, and non-discrimination. Where all rights are realized, people tend to thrive. Where they are not, people are not able to realize their potential, and fertility rates tend to be higher or lower than what most people really want.

In 1994, 179 governments endorsed the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. They committed to enabling people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health as a matter of fundamental human rights that underpin thriving, just, sustainable societies. They agreed that progress depends on advancing gender equality, eliminating violence against women and ensuring women’s ability to manage their fertility. Above all, governments agreed that matters of demographics, economic and social development, and reproductive rights are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. Governments also agreed that reproductive rights may be realized when all couples and individuals have the information and means to responsibly decide the number, spacing and timing of their children. Decisions about whether, when or how often to become pregnant must be made free from any form of discrimination, coercion or violence. A similar commitment is reflected in the more recent 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Reproductive health and reproductive rights are specific aims under one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and integral to realizing all the goals.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has released the 2018 edition of its State of World Population report that discusses the Reproductive rights and the demographic transition in six chapters as follows:

 

  • The global trend towards smaller families
  • A legacy of large families
  • Departures from the typical fertility transition
  • Many paths to one destination
  • Creating conditions for parenthood
  • Everyone has the right to choose

 

Highlights of the Report:

 

  • Currently, based on fertility rates, most countries and territories fall into four broad categories. Each set faces national policy concerns about population trends. Each has people who, because rights are compromised in some way to some degree, are not fully empowered to decide freely and responsibly how many children they have, The first category of countries has fertility closest to what it used to be worldwide: high. In a second fertility category, fertility has declined significantly and then plateaued or, in some cases, even started to climb again. The reasons include disruptions in family planning programmes, and the aftermath of conflict and economic crisis, A related third category of countries has seen steady declines in fertility that began in the 1960s, or in some cases as recently as the 1980s, and are continuing today. Most of these countries fall at a mid-level in terms of income, although a few are poorer, and a small number are wealthy, The fourth category of countries has had low fertility for a long time; they are mainly the more developed States in Asia, Europe and North America. They tend to have higher levels of education and income, and have gone further in realizing rights for women. Basic reproductive and other rights are mostly met. Gaps in affordable quality childcare,
  • institutional, economic and social factors can empower couples and individuals to realize their own reproductive goals and desires—or prevent them from doing so. Where couples and individuals are fully empowered, fertility tends to hover around two births per woman, the level considered sufficient to keep population sizes stable in the absence of migration.
  • Within education systems, comprehensive sexuality education is limited and, of poor quality in much of the world, depriving young people of the knowledge and skills to make informed choices. Economic barriers include those that make reproductive health services unaffordable or that require a woman to work such long hours for low pay that she cannot find a way to start a family.
  •  Many intractable barriers to reproductive rights are forged by gender discrimination, which is why the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development puts so much emphasis on gender equality. A subordinate status for many women still means not knowing or fully understanding their rights, or how to claim them. It can mean not having the power and independence to say yes or no to getting pregnant.
  •  Institutionalized gender inequality, which can manifest in inadequate health-care services, may lead to women having more or fewer children than they really want.
  • Gender-based violence, prevalent in every society, further erodes autonomy and can result in forced pregnancy. Further, women everywhere perform more of the unpaid care work related to raising children than men do. This can mean dependence on male breadwinners, abandoned opportunities for paid work, and exhaustion that extracts a physical and mental toll.

 

The Report outline many actions that countries could take to achieve reproductive rights:

  • The universal character of reproductive rights, the international commitments to them, and the interrelationships between fertility and development mean that remaining barriers must fall, especially if we are to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Public policies, services and budgets need to be aligned so that every person and couple can realize their reproductive rights, including the right to plan their families.
  • Strengthening the  health systems that operate in line with reproductive rights, and provide high-quality, universally accessible reproductive health services. Health services need to provide a meaningful choice of contraceptives and fully educate women and men on these options and on the implications of planning a family for health and well-being.
  • Service providers should aim to empower clients to make choices and should treat these choices with respect, including among adolescents, unmarried people, people with disabilities, and others for whom social norms continue to dictate stigma and discrimination.
  • Countries at all levels of fertility have groups whose reproductive rights are particularly compromised. They may be poor and rural. Or young. Or from a community that does not speak the national language used in health services. In many cases, these groups have the highest rates of unmet need for contraception and the highest rates of unwanted childbearing. Realizing their rights as an urgent priority should be the starting point towards universal realization.
  • since fertility affects, and is affected by, a variety of social, economic and institutional factors, most countries need to help people to have the number of children they want through policies to increase decent work, parental leave, affordable housing and readily available quality childcare, and to achieve gender equality, among other priorities.