Addis Ababa January 29/2017 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said Africa cannot attain its aspirations without providing women and adolescent girls with access to voluntary family planning, as it plays a pivotal role in harnessing demographic dividend.
This was disclosed during a high-level roundtable meeting held between AU, UNFPA, UK and Ministry of Health of Ethiopia on family planning.
During the occasion UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said that ensuring access to family planning saves lives, improves health, empower women and their families and advances economic development.
“That is why we firmly believe that sustainable development must start with access to family planning and, that we must leave no one behind”, he said.
According to the director women with choices and better productive health are better empowered to seek and keep better jobs and contribute more to their families, nations and global prosperity.
Since the launch of Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide for themselves when and how many children they want to have, there have been significant achievements.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, for the first time ever, more than 30percent of women and girls are using a modern method of contraception.
“Yet greater progress is needed if we are to meet our common goals” he noted.
Minister of Health Prof. Dr. Yifru Berhane said that Ethiopia has long recognized voluntary family planning as a key to the realization of healthy and productive families that contributor for the country’s development.
Fertility rate has dropped by one birth per women since the beginning of the millennium and more than one in three women currently uses modern method of contraception, he said.
“Contraceptive use has more than doubled in the last ten years , from 15 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016”, he said.
Most importantly the country is able to avert more than 1.5 million unintended pregnancies, he added.
AU Director for Social Affairs Ambassador, Olawale Maiyengun on his part said that Agenda 2063 has highlighted to the potential disadvantage the continent could face if conducive environment is not created to reap the demographic dividend.
This includes mass migration of the youth, engagement in terrorism, high of youth educated but unskilled for purpose, child marriages and un-empowered youth denied of their rights and restricted access to education and basic health services, he said.
“The youth of our continent need to be guaranteed social and economic development, if they in turn, are going to contribute the same generations”, he said.
The FP 2020 commitments by AU member states will play a critical role in underpinning the pillars of the AU roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend by investing in youth, he indicated.
Universal accesses to health is a human right and enables girls and women to plan their lives, empower themselves economically and achieve a more sustainable future.
He calls for a greater support from member states and partners to work in translating polices and strategies into action that will ensure that the youth are given all the necessary tools to achieve their goals.