بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
UN Resident Coordinator Andrew Cox, Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;
As salaam Alaikum, a very good evening;
Today I stand here to speak on UNFPA State of the World Population Report 2012. The highlighted theme for the global launch is “By Choice Not by Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development”.
As Andrew today clearly mentioned, we should all believe it is the right of women when to be pregnant. Globally, one fourth of sexually active women aged 15 to 49, 222 million women in all, have an unmet need for family planning. The report argues for a rights-based approach to family planning. Enabling women to exercise their reproductive rights, including choosing when to become pregnant, enables other rights including health, education and the achievement of a life with dignity.
But the family is too big, the expenses too high. So without family planning, can we live to the standard we want? Certainly not.
Every child needs higher education. Every child needs to be brought up with respect and dignity. And today’s higher education for children is extremely essential. And as you must have seen, recently by the reports achieved by the students of the Maldives they are all achieving very high grades. If family planning is not practiced how do you give your child the opportunity of a proper education? This is a question that every father, every mother should ask. And I certainly believe that it’s the mother’s choice. Certainly, every choice made by a couple, a family, a husband and wife, should be mutual. But as we all know, the hard part of upbringing a child is most of the time carried on by the mother.
Since, excessive population growth is an extremely serious problem facing the contemporary world, and with the world epidemic of over population, UNFPA has played a major role in Maldives, creating awareness and making a difference.
Like Andrew said, you have been successful. But the most important and the most difficult thing is to sustain the success. We thought bringing democracy would be great. But how do you sustain a democracy? In the same manner, today we have achieved a success in family planning to some extent. But to sustain it is more important for economic reasons.
UNFPA role in the Maldives which started in 1980, changed the scope of institutional structure. Since 1994 UNFPA initiated 4 country programs, which has benefited the Maldivians in many different ways, especially in family planning.
When we say family planning we must all know that it is not about birth control only. Family planning services are defined as educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enables individuals, including minors, to determine and to having children by choice and not by chance. Because family planning is not only a birth control measure but also a human rights and development issue. Having children by choice not by chance eventually will pave way for a better future of the people as a whole.
Unplanned family increases constrains, more often on women and adolescents, and eventually welfare is not met properly. More importantly this pressures future economic growth. And we do believe that economic growth is a success of a nation.
For the many challenges faced with population growth, United Nations’ 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, and the 2000 Millennium Development Summit called for universal access to family planning, information and services.
The question we do ask still today “is family planning accessed to in all the islands? Is family planning properly talked about and educated? Is education given to the people from the islands?” This is a question we have to answer today.
The Country Program of Maldives recognizes the reproductive rights of women, men and young people, especially of vulnerable populations, as well as the linkages between reproductive rights and the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Millennium Development Goals. This has paved way for many interventions of actions at different levels. I should congratulate UNFPA for the hard work and commitment they are showing to keep things in the right direction.
The pressure of the rapidly growing population will establish limits on future economic growth and the ability of the country to provide for the welfare of its citizens, and to achieve its national development objectives. With family planning, it reduces the family size, would reduce public sector spending for basic requirements and reduce pressure on national resources.
In Maldives Demographic and Health Survey Indicate, one in four pregnancies were unplanned; 16 percent unwanted and 10 percent mistimed. Further Family Protection Unit at IGMH records show 33 women, averaged 23 years, had out of wedlock pregnancies.
As in Maldives, the youth, the Adolescents, have high levels of unintended pregnancies, due in part to poor access to contraceptive information and services. Worldwide adolescents and youth account for some 40 per cent of unsafe abortions.
When we look at some population figures, it is very interesting to note that in the 1970s, couples worldwide had an average of five children per family. But today, they have an average of 2.5 children. In Maldives average family size has declined from 6.4 in 1990 to 2.5 in 2009, which shows the impact of the work done by UNFPA and the implementing agencies. Again I congratulate you all for the hard work that you have carried out.
That is what I meant. This is the time for us to come, make preparations and understand, and continue to give information about contraceptives and other ways and methods, and explain them, the people, on family planning.
Family Planning is a human rights and helps in the development as a whole. So through education and prevention, increased contraceptive use has reduced maternal deaths by 40 % by reducing unintended pregnancies. And 30% more maternal deaths could be prevented by fulfilling unmet need for family planning.
So Family planning should be by choice not by chance. Because family planning has accelerated the process of eradicating poverty; promoted the change of people's concepts regarding marriage, birth and family; effectively checked the trend of over-rapid population growth; helped female productive forces and helped improve the status of women, especially in working women; created favorable conditions for the development of country’s economy and the improvement of people's living standards; promoted the improvement of the quality of the population in terms of education and health, as well as the overall development of the people.
That is why I mentioned to you that economically it is very important. And we have heard many times that in the Maldives today, a husband and a wife needs to work so that you can have proper education given to the children, especially for sending for higher education.
As I said, populous development is like a pandemic to the world. So when the UN Population Fund sounded a warning to the international community, survival and development of the nation alerted and attention highlighted to bring a balance between consumption and development. Because it is projected that the world population would be 12.5 billion people by the middle of the next century and probably the humanity will be unable to develop further.
So therefore it is important for this small nation also to understand how we will sustain our economic development. Therefore policymakers must think through both the short and long term consequences of policies prior to implementation.
Importantly governments and nongovernmental organizations in the Islamic countries should be active partners and religion should not be considered as a barrier in this endeavor. Muslim countries and societies are no different than the rest of the world when they aspire to reach their development goals by improving the health of their women and children. We are all human beings, irrespective of what religion and what belief we have.
I give assurance that the government will be a part of the change and development.
For a prosperous future, family planning is a must. To make Maldives the place of choice for healthy families, stable societies and to live, to work, and do business, we have to have family planning and give that choice to the women.
And I strongly say that because I sincerely believe that it is a choice that women must have a right to make.
I wish you all a success.
May God bless the Maldives.