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Cross-party group marks World Population Day

Cross-party group marks World Population Day – family planning is a human right.

Wellington, Tuesday 10 July 2018

This Wednesday (11 July) is World Population Day. The theme this year is “Family planning is a human right”.

The New Zealand Parliamentarians Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) Chair Poto Williams says the chosen theme is a reminder that it’s now 50 years since family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right. Against the backdrop of the Pacific, with rising fertility rates driven in large part by rising adolescent fertility, Ms Williams says sexual and reproductive health is a foundation of sustainable development.

A recent report from the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission confirms, “Sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential for sustainable development because of their links to gender equality and women’s wellbeing, their impact on maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health, and their roles in shaping future economic development and environmental sustainability.”

The breakthrough recognition for family planning came at the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights.

The concluding statement of the conference was ground-breaking. It stated “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.” The Conference also adopted a resolution connecting this right to “the dignity and worth of the human person” and noted the relationship between access to family planning and the status of women.

The right to family planning has an immense impact on individuals and global development. It is especially important for women, who bear the physical, emotional, and economic effects of pregnancy. Family planning enables women more choice and agency over some of these issues – planning if and when to have a family, completing their education, participating in the workforce, and reaching their potential. In essence, it enables them to have control over their life and future – which helps achieve gender equality.

The right to family planning also has a positive effect on the global population – reducing poverty by allowing women and families to choose how many children they want and can support, avoiding unintended pregnancies, and providing better educational opportunities for children, enabling them to contribute to their community and economy. The children of educated parents are also more likely to go on to be educated, helping to break the cycle of poverty.

Ms Williams says the work of the cross-party group – which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month - provides an important opportunity to ensure the sustainability of initiatives and programmes tackling the significant issues facing the Pacific.

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