Monday, October 22, 2018

Female Empowerment

High fertility rates can be seen in much of Africa with four or more births per woman. Countries with high fertility have faster population growth, which poses challenges for governments already struggling to make progress to provide education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.
Generally, these countries are poorer with limited access to quality healthcare and contraception.
UNFPA found that over 20 percent of women in the region want to avoid a pregnancy but have an unmet need for family planning.
At the same time, almost 20 million—or 38 percent—of the region’s pregnancies each year are unintended.
Practices such as early marriage, which is associated to an early start to child bearing, is also common.
In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 38 percent of women are married by the age of 18. In Niger, 76 percent of girls marry by the age of 18. Child marriage, which is accompanied with the end of education and the lack of opportunities for employment and thus reduced earnings in adulthood, denies girls’ decision-making power and their right to choose.
“The gap between desired and actual family size suggests that women and men are not fully able to realise their reproductive rights,” the report states.
“Choice can be a reality everywhere. This is something that governments should prioritise,” UNFPA’s Washington D.C. director Sarah Craven told IPS. Craven expressed concern over any policy that restricts individuals to access information and services, and highlighted the importance of reproductive choice.
In high fertility countries, there is a need for education on reproductive rights and employment opportunities for rural women while low fertility countries should implement family-friendly policies such as child care services and parental leave.
UNFPA’s executive director Natalia Kanem said “The way forward is the full realisation of reproductive rights, for every individual and couple, no matter where or how they live, or how much they earn…the real measure of progress is people themselves: especially the well-being of women and girls, their enjoyment of their rights and full equality, and the life choices that they are free to make.”

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