World Population Report calls for sexual and reproductive health, rights

Inequality is often understood in terms of income or wealth, the dividing line between the rich and poor. But, in reality, economic disparities are only one part of the inequality story.

Many other social, racial, political and institutional dimensions feed on one another and together block hope for progress among people on the margins.

The State of the World Population 2017 Report, titled: “Worlds apart: Reproductive health and rights in an age of inequality”, acknowledges the importance of quality education, particularly for rural young women, to enable them to take control of their sexual and reproductive lives.

The report, launched in Accra, highlights the dire consequences of perpetuating gender inequality and inequalities in realising sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It says the two demand more action, without which many women and girls will remain caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, diminished capabilities, unfulfilled human rights and unrealised potential.

Call to action

The 136-page report calls for action to bridge the “yawning gap” between the richest and the poorest, describing the situation as not only unfair but also a risk to economies, communities and nations.

It states that with lack of education, young women, especially those in rural communities, do not have the power to decide whether, when and how often they become pregnant.

It notes that those rights were far from universally realised, with hundreds of millions of women still struggling to obtain information services and supplies to prevent pregnancy or give birth safely.

Educated woman

“Whether a woman is able to exercise her reproductive rights depends in part on whether she lives in a city or rural area, how much education she has and whether she is affluent or poor.

“An educated woman in an affluent household in a city, for example, is likely to have access to a full range of modern contraceptive choices; have the power to decide whether, when and how often to become pregnant and give birth safely in a hospital or a clinic under the care of a health professional,” the report says.

Calling for an action for a more equal world, the report calls on all to help transform the world “in making a hopeful vision a global reality”.

Need to bridge the inequality gap

Launching the report, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr O.B. Amoah, said it provided “us with evidence of inequality in health and rights and reveals to us the intersection of inequalities in women’s health and rights and economic inequality.

“It warns us of the costs of inequality; persuades us towards equality by reaching the furthest behind first and recommends 10 actions for a more equal world,” he said.

He said the report propositioned all to pay particular attention to women, who were what matters most in the world today.

Mr Amoah stated that without the availability and accessibility of information and services on reproductive and sexual health issues, many women and girls would remain caught up in a cycle of poverty and become saddled with diminished capabilities and burdened with unfulfilled human rights.

Sixth country programme

He said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) had been involved in the implementation of the sixth country programme (CP6).

He said the CP6 was designed to focus activities on areas such as Sexual Reproductive Health, Population and Development, Gender Equity, Women Empowerment and Reproductive Health, with HIV and AIDS as the cross-cutting issue.

The programme is aimed at achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health, promoting reproductive rights, reducing maternal mortality and accelerating progress on the International Conference on Population Development Agenda and the Millennium Development Goal 5 (A and B).

The overall goal is to contribute to improved quality of life of women and young people in Ghana by supporting the population, reproductive health and gender policies and programmes.

That strategy, Mr Amoah said, was targeted at reducing maternal mortality and addressing adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights

Disparities

Presenting an overview of the report, a senior lecturer at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Dr Fred Dzanku, noted that studies in the Ghanaian situation had identified wide disparities between urban and rural areas, as well as within rural and urban areas.

He said the study revealed that on contraceptive use, educated women in rural areas were more likely to patronise contraceptives, compared to their counterparts in the urban areas.

Dr Dzanku, therefore, identified quality education as an important tool to reduce inequality in the country and the best means to bridge the gap between rural-urban contraceptive use.

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