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UNFPA advocacy event highlights the need to redouble efforts to ensure reproductive rights and choices for all

8 May 2019
Bettina Maas, UNFPA Country Representative (left) and H.E. Dr. Fitsum Assefa, Minister of Plan and Development, at the advocacy event

A high level advocacy event held today around the theme of the State of World Population 2019 – UNFPA’s flagship report – “Unfinished business in the pursuit of rights and choices for all” highlighted that despite the remarkable gains made over the past 50 years, the world still has a long way to go before reproductive rights and choices are claimed by all.

Speaking on the occasion, H.E. Dr. Fitsum Assefa, Minister of Plan and Development of Ethiopia, stated that the country has been endeavoring on increasing access to reproductive health services resulting in remarkable gains made on reducing maternal and neonatal mortality over the past two decades.

On her part, Bettina Maas, Country Representative of UNFPA remarked that despite the remarkable gains, there is still a long way to go in tackling the finished the business of the global reproductive rights movement as too many are not enjoying their rights and too many have been left behind. She added that UNFPA is determined to achieve three transformative results by 2030 – ending unmet need for family planning; ending preventable maternal deaths; and ending gender based violence – in an effort to fulfil the promises of the ICPD Programme of Action.

The highlights of the State of World Population 2019 presented at the event indicates that global reproductive rights movement that began in the 1960s transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of women, empowering them to govern their own bodies and shape their own futures.  

The efforts of the reproductive rights movements have dramatically reduced the number of unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths, and have cleared the way for healthier, more productive lives for untold millions, the UNFPA report disclosed.
Fifty years ago, only about one in four married women had the power to make decisions about whether or when to become pregnant. Now, about three in five do, thanks to increasingly available modern contraception. Fifty years ago around the world, the average woman had about five children. Today, she has half that many.

The report indicates further that reproductive rights are still out of reach for too many women, including the more than 200 million women who want to prevent a pregnancy but cannot access modern contraceptive information and services, says the report.
A panel discussion contextualizing the theme of the State of World Population to the situation in Ethiopia and involving panelists from the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (a civil society organization) and the youth took place during the event.

The participants of the event expressed pledges on recommitting to fulfill the promises of the ICPD agenda which will serve as inputs to the upcoming Summit on ICPD in Nairobi, Kenya in November this year.  

The advocacy event is among a series of high level events taking place amidst the commemoration of the anniversaries of two important milestones. It has been 50 years since UNFPA began operations in 1969 as the first United Nations agency to address population growth and reproductive health needs. It is also the 25th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), where 179 governments called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, and safe pregnancy and childbirth services.

Meanwhile, photos documenting UNFPA’s journey in ensuring reproductive rights and choices were exhibited during the advocacy event.