Government, UNFPA to commemorate World Population Day 2018

Friday, July 06, 2018

On Wednesday July 11th, The Government of The Gambia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will join the rest of the world, to commemorate World Population Day 2018, on the global theme: “Family Planning is a Human Right.”

The commemoration will take the form of a procession from QCELL Office, Kairaba Avenue, to the Youth Monument at Westfield, bringing together young people, women communities, government officials, traditional and religious leaders, members of the Population Taskforce, and UN agencies, to interact and access relevant information.

World Population Day is about countering any notion of “population control,” strengthening the global rights and development frameworks that support it, and ensuring that future generations never take a hard-won human right for granted. Fifty years ago, the United Nations International Conference on Human Rights resolved in the Proclamation of Teheran of 13th May 1968:  “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.”

Introducing a resolution on family planning that was reflected in the Proclamation, the delegate who coordinated negotiations on the resolution declared that it, “says ‘yes’ to planning by the family and ‘no’ to planning for the family.”

Family planning was, therefore, a human right to be exercised, not “population control” to be imposed by the State. World Population Day 2018 and every other year, commemorates this landmark agreement. Despite tremendous progress since 1968, hundreds of millions of women, men and young people globally, are still unable to exercise their right to plan their families, and 214 million women, still lack access to modern contraceptives.

The current Contraceptive Prevalence Rate in The Gambia is 9% and an unmet need for Family Planning of 24.9%. Not encouraging, these figures call for more interventions in advocating for contraceptive uptake and breaking the socio-cultural norms that do not encourage family planning in communities.

The youthful nature of the Country’s population, coupled with the low contraceptive prevalence rate and high unmet needs for family planning information, services and commodities, means that the population will continue to be a dependent one, making it increasingly unlikely to ever harness the Demographic Dividend in The Gambia. Family planning can therefore greatly support the country in harnessing its Demographic Dividend and ultimately, reducing poverty. The World Population Day 2018 commemoration in The Gambia will emphasize the need to employ a rights-based approach to family planning, which encourages recognition of family planning as a right first and enables individuals to choose freely without discrimination or coercion, the number and spacing of their children and the size of their families.