Video

28/11/2018

Getting 179 governments to agree on something is never easy.

But that’s exactly what happened at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. After four years of comprehensive consultations and heated negotiations leading up to the Conference, the result was a Programme of Action that, for the first time, placed individual dignity and human rights firmly at the heart of human development.

It did so by reconciling diverse views on population and development, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development; acknowledging rights and choices for all; and recognising that these interlinked pillars are key to shaping and implementing policies that will empower individuals and, by extension, entire societies and nations.

Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals.

This video - created for the 2018 Mid-Term Review of the Asian Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development -  demonstrates why.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft2L0gPeaBg&t=29s

17/10/2018

“My parents were farmers. They didn’t have money to send me to school, so I came to Bangkok to work when I was 12,” says Sanit, now 40, as she opens the dressmaking shop where he has worked for years.

“I’ve lived in a disciplined way,” Sanit says. “I worked hard and finished high-school outside of my job. I didn’t have time to find a husband, let alone have children.”

“So, when I married last year, I knew I had to have kids quickly. But the doctor found a growth in my womb, which, combined with my age, had made it hard for us to conceive.”

Sanit is like an increasing number of women in Thailand who pursued jobs at the expense of marriages and having children. By the time they are ready to start a family, it is often too late for them to become pregnant or deliver without complications. Fertility treatments are available in Thailand but are too expensive most people.

“Increasing numbers of people are putting economic security and stability ahead of starting families,” says Dr. Sorapop Kiatpongsan, a physician specializing in fertility at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “Women who have passed their peak fertility years need correct information and affordable treatment options,” he says.

Sanit’s story represents one end of Thailand’s fertility challenge. On one hand, adolescents lack access to information and sexual and reproductive health services and are seeing their futures diminished through unintended pregnancies. On the other hand, more and more women are aiming to start families later in life and finding that they’re reproductive years have passed.

 

17/10/2018

“I started dancing when I was 15,” Kate says. While performing at a fair in the Thai town of Nonthaburi then, she met a man. “He was older than me. He was funny and handsome. I didn’t like him at first, but he grew on me.”

Back then, Kate didn’t know about contraception or the risks of having sex without it and eventually became pregnant. Now 17, she lives in a in Bangkok shelter for teenage mothers.

About 1.6 million babies were born to teenage mothers in Thailand over the last 15 years, with a 54 per cent increase from 2000 to 2014. In 2016 alone, over 14 per cent of all pregnancies in the country were to adolescents.

To help girls like Kate prevent pregnancy until they are older and decide to start a family, the Government of Thailand passed a law making contraception and information available to all people between the ages of 10 and 19.

In Thailand, comprehensive sexuality education, crucial to ensuring young people can make well-informed decisions about their bodies and relationships, is taught in almost all high schools across the country, but the quality varies widely. A new law requires all high schools in Thailand to adopt the curriculum, although implementation remains a challenge.

“We can’t stop teenagers from having sex, but we can help them make it safer for them,” says Dr. Jetn Sirathranont, Chairman of the Committee on Public Health in Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly.

Kate's story represents one end of Thailand’s fertility challenge.  

On one hand, adolescents lack access to information and sexual and reproductive health services and are seeing their futures diminished through unintended pregnancies. On the other hand, women are aiming to start families later in life and finding that their reproductive years have passed.

 

17/10/2018

The biggest joy in her life is her son. But Sara Ghorbani remembers the time when motherhood seemed like a distant dream.

Two years into her marriage, Sara’s husband Fouad lost his job at a time when the Iranian economy was suffering from severe stagnation, inflation, and unemployment. “At first, I was against having a child,” said the 35-year-old beautician, who lives with her husband in a two-bedroom apartment just outside the capital Tehran. “I kept saying, it’s hard. We weren’t sure if we could care for a child or provide the proper upbringing.” But the couple never gave up the dream of having a child and decided they would no longer wait for things to improve.

“In our hearts, we knew we wanted a child – a child who belongs to us. The thought never left our minds,” said Sara. “We decided if we want it, we can make it happen.” Five years ago, Sara and Fouad became proud parents to a baby boy named Caren. The couple says raising a child has been the biggest challenge of their lives, but they have never been happier.

“Sure, it’s hard, but it becomes habit,” said Sara. “It’s like God gives us the energy and stamina. When I look at Caren and how he’s growing, I really enjoy it,” said Fouad. “I wanted a child before I got too old. That’s why I’ve never regretted this.”

Sara and Fouad are happy with their decision to have a child, but the Iranian government would be happier if they had more. That’s because for the past three decades Iran’s married couples have had fewer babies and analysts say the trend is threatening the country’s economy and cultural stability.

“It makes us very concerned,” said Doctor Ali Reza Marandi, a professor of pediatrics and Iran’s former Health Minister. “Low fertility rates can cause severe damage to a country’s future.” During the 1980s, Iran faced a much different problem. Population experts say married couple were having too many children.

It was Marandi who led a successful campaign to curb Iran’s growing fertility rate which stood at nearly seven babies per woman – the country’s highest level ever recorded.

Under the government-funded family planning campaign designed to counter the 1980s baby boom, family size in Iran dropped from nearly seven children to less than two by 2003. It was the largest drop in fertility rate ever recorded.

Today Iran’s total fertility rate is 2.01 births per woman- the lowest among Islamic countries, and slightly less than the target of 2.1. Some population experts say a fertility rate of 2.1 is required to keep the population stable – neither rising or falling.

Marandi says the future health of Iran’s economy depends in large part on married couples having more children, otherwise there may not be enough young workers to drive the economy, and health workers to care for the elderly.

“If this trend continues, it will be tremendously expensive for the economy to sustain,” said Marandi. “Those who produce in an economy are the young people. If the young continue to decrease and the elderly continue to increase, we may reach a point, in just a few years, when we will not be able to feed and care for the elderly.”

In 2014, the Iranian government launched an advertising campaign urging young couples to have more babies. Outdoor billboards posted throughout Tehran read, ‘More children, happier life.’ Iran’s Supreme Leader called on Iranians to have “four or five children” to contribute to the development of the country.

Since the campaign, Iran’s total fertility rate has increased slightly, but analysts and government officials say they still face challenges.

Many young Iranian women are postponing plans to marry to get an education instead. An increasing number of men say they can’t afford to get married and are waiting for the economy to improve. Many Iranians who do marry choose to pursue careers instead of having children.

Sara and Fouad both work full-time jobs to provide for their son and they still worry about the future of Iran’s economy, but they say they are proof that, even when circumstances are not ideal, you can get married, have children, and live a happy life. “I think whenever you want something, you can make it happen. The important thing is you have to want it,” said. Sara.

“The fact that we have a child who comes from me, this is a wonderful thing. It takes away the entire day’s troubles.”

19/08/2018

25 August 2018 marks one year since violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, triggering the massive Rohingya exodus to neighbouring Bangladesh, adding to the population of refugees who had arrived in Cox's Bazar after previous bouts of violence in earlier years. As of this writing, about 700,000 refugees have fled from Rakhine to Cox's Bazar in the latest phase, most of them within the short span of 45 days. 

UNFPA and partners have been responding to the crisis by providing essential supplies and services, to ensure safer pregnancy and childbirth, and address and prevent violence against women including sexual assault.

Here's a look back at what we've done over the past year - underscoring the challenges ahead.

If you'd like to support our lifesaving work for Rohingya refugees, please visit www.unfpa.org/Rohingya.

 

12/03/2018
Real people. Real change. In 2017, UNFPA - the United Nations Population Fund - made life safer, better and fairer for millions of women, girls and youth across Asia and the Pacific.

 

15/01/2018

Helping displaced families manage tension and trauma in Myanmar's Rakhine State.

11/01/2018

Youth smash sexism in Bangladesh.

04/05/2016

Supported by UNFPA and the Government of Luxembourg, the programme connects provincial hospitals with experts at National Center for Maternal and Child Health (NCMCH). Using software from partners at the Swiss Surgical Team, local doctors are able to consult with experts, in real time, without having to leave the examination room.

03/05/2016

After a historic decision by the government of Cambodia to establish a national budget line for the procurement of contraceptives, the government plans to fully cover the contraceptive needs for the public sector from 2016 onward. The Cambodia Ministry of Health is partnering with UNFPA to provide a variety of reproductive health supplies worth over $2 million in 2016

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