Rights to access family planning are still denied: UNFPA report

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - A new report released globally yesterday indicates that millions of people around the world find that their rights to access family planning are still denied.

United Nations Population Fund's newly-published 2012 State of World Population report, titled "By Choice, Not By Chance: Family Planning, Human Rights and Development", states that ignoring people's rights to access family planning will have serious impacts on poverty, social exclusion, poor health and gender equality.

UNFPA Indonesia representative Jose Ferraris said yesterday that the report told the story of millions of people in the world who struggled to plan healthy and prosperous lives. The struggle has profound consequences for not only their lives but also their families, communities and nations.

The report, said Ferraris, laid out pathways for positive actions that governments, international organisations and civil society should pursue.

"These are steps that ensure everyone has the power and the means to decide freely and responsibly how many children to have, and when to have them," he said during the report's launch in Jakarta, jointly hosted by the UNFPA and Indonesia's National Population and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) and officially opened by Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono.

UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin states in the report's foreword that a rights-based approach to family planning can produce tremendous achievements.

"Millions more women have become empowered to have fewer children and to start their families later in life, giving them an opportunity to complete their schooling, earn a better living and escape the trap of poverty," he said.

The report shows that an estimated 867 million of a total 1.52 billion women of reproductive age in the developing world need contraceptives; however, only 645 million are currently using modern contraceptive methods.

Of total 80 million unintended pregnancies the UNFPA forecasts to happen this year, 63 million will occur among the 222 million women with unmet needs for modern contraception. About 40 million of total unintended pregnancies affecting women who lack access to modern contraception will likely end in abortion.

"This is inexcusable. Family planning is a human right. It must therefore be available to all who want it. But clearly this right has not yet been extended to all," said Osotimehin.

Acting BKKBN chairperson Subagyo said population and development remained critical issues in Indonesia. Apart from its status as the world's fourth-most populous country after China, India and the United States, Indonesia's total fertility rate now stands at 2.4 children per woman, which can be considered quite high.

"With the existing population and high fertility rate, natural population growth in the country can increase to 4.6 million births per year," said Subagyo, adding that such rapid population growth could impact various aspects of development.

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