July 6, 2018 – Message for World Population Day on July 11th by Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director
Fifty years ago, the world declared that “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children,” at the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights in Tehran, on 13 May 1968.
Family planning is not only a matter of human rights; it is also central to women’s empowerment, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.
Yet, in developing regions, some 214 million women still lack safe and effective family planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities. This threatens their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
UNFPA supports family planning in developing countries by ensuring a reliable supply of a full range of modern contraceptives, strengthening national health systems, and promoting gender equality.
UNFPA is fully committed to continuing to support countries’ efforts to uphold the right of individuals, especially women, to plan a family. We are striving to end all unmet need for voluntary family planning in developing countries by 2030. But, we cannot do this alone. Governments, parliamentarians, the private sector and civil society must join forces to make it happen. To begin with, developed countries could close the global family planning funding gap for a mere 20 cents per person per year. Given the expected returns for families, societies and nations, it would be a strategic and doable investment in the world’s future.
On this World Population Day, UNFPA calls on governments to fulfill their commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care and reproductive rights, including family planning services and information, as agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Investments in family planning today are investments in the health and well-being of millions of women for generations to come.
World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.
2018 theme: “Family Planning is a Human Right”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.
The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, stated unequivocally: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
Embedded in this legislative language was a game-changing realization: Women and girls have the right to avoid the exhaustion, depletion and danger of too many pregnancies, too close together. Men and women have the right to choose when and how often to embrace parenthood — if at all. Every individual has the human right to determine the direction and scope of his or her future in this fundamental way.
Nine standards to uphold the human right to family planning:
- Non-discrimination: Family planning information and services cannot be restricted on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, political affiliation, national origin, age, economic status, place of residence, disability status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Available: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
- Accessible: Countries must ensure that family planning commodities and services are accessible to everyone.
- Acceptable: Contraceptive services and information must be provided in a dignified manner, respecting both modern medical ethics and the cultures of those being accommodated.
- Good quality: Family planning information must be clearly communicated and scientifically accurate.
- Informed decision-making: Every person must be empowered to make reproductive choices with full autonomy, free of pressure, coercion or misrepresentation.
- Privacy and confidentiality: All individuals must enjoy the right to privacy when seeking family planning information and services.
- Participation: Countries have an obligation to ensure the active and informed participation of individuals in decisions that affect them, including health issues.
- Accountability: Health systems, education systems, leaders and policymakers must be accountable to the people they serve in all efforts to realize the human right to family planning.