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The World Population Day was commemorated today under the theme “Family Planning is a Human Right.” The day served as an occasion to observe the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Teheran which resolved “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children” countering any notion of family planning as a “population control” measure imposed by States.  

Speaking on the occasion the guest of honor, Ato Getachew Adem, Deputy Commissioner of the National Planning Commission with the rank of State Minister, said the achievement of global as well as national development goals largely depends on realizing women’s access to family planning. He underlined that efforts at creating awareness and availing services on family planning need to especially target the less advantaged sections of society, particularly women in rural areas. Ato Getachew also highlighted the importance of strengthening evidence based advocacy work on family planning.

On her part, Ms. Seharla Abdulahi, the State Minister of Health, stated that universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, is a critical intervention to empower individuals and families to make informed decisions about the number, timing and spacing of children. She indicated that the Ethiopian Government is keenly working to accelerate progress towards increasing access to family planning and indicated that through the FP2020 commitment, efforts are being exerted to reach an additional 6.2 million women and adolescent girls with family planning services by 2020.

“Family planning is not only a matter of human rights; it is also central to women’s empowerment, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development,” said Ms. Bettina Maas, Country Representative of UNFPA, reading out the message conveyed on the occasion by the Executive Director of UNFPA. She went on to say that UNFPA is striving to end all unmet need for voluntary family planning in developing countries by 2030 as “investments in family planning today are investments in the health and well-being of millions of women for generations to come.”

The panel discussion that was held during the commemoration involving panelists from the Government, development partners, UNFPA and civil society organizations treated topics speaking to the theme of the World Population Day this year and triggered vibrant discussions among participants. The performances staged by an art group at the event gave color to the commemoration.

The World Population Day is annually commemorated on the 11th of July to increase peoples’ awareness on various population issues such as family planning, gender equality, maternal health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. World Population Day was instituted by the UN General Assembly in 1989.

The World Population Day this year also marked the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the National Population Policy of Ethiopia.