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Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s new National Population Policy aims to raise the status of women, bring more opportunities for young people and drive wider socio-economic development for all Cambodians.

The new framework, launched by the Government with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), will guide population related decision-making to 2030.

“Population is the forefront of development, and development is at the heart of our people’s well-being,” said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, at the policy launch event on May 3rd in Phnom Phenh.

"The overall strategic objective is to contribute to steady improvements in the quality of life of the people of Cambodia, as well as poverty alleviation, with an emphasis on inclusive development. The Royal Government recognizes the need to grapple with emerging socio-demographic issues …so Cambodia properly gears itself up to take advantage of the demographic window of opportunity,” writes the Prime Minister in a Foreword to the Policy.

Approximately 35 per cent of all Cambodians are under the age of 18, and the country is set to experience a ‘demographic dividend,’ in which 1.5 million young people aged between 13 and 17 years will reach working age in the next five years. The policy aims to ensure these young people have the tools, skills and opportunities they need to propel themselves and the country from poverty and economic hardship to growing and sustainable prosperity.

Large numbers of Cambodian women, particularly vulnerable groups living in rural areas, do not have access to contraceptives, so the policy also aims to ensure all women and families have access and information on family planning.

“To break the cycle of poverty, its vital that that women in particular have the tools and know-how they need to choose how many children they have, and when they have them, “says Marc Derveeuw, UNFPA’s Representative in Cambodia.

“The policy has huge potential to boost the status of women, make Cambodia more gender-equal and boost opportunities for young people. We’re also delighted that it’s rooted in key international human rights commitments and aims to benefit all Cambodians, including vulnerable and marginalized groups,” continues UNFPA’s Derveeuw. 

The policy updates a previous framework from 2003 to take into account demographic changes and increased urbanization and migration. It also aims to support infrastructural development and set guidelines for investing in people as the country’s rapidly expanding economy diversifies.

UNFPA commissioned a number of population-related studies that have fed into the new policy, and other government poverty reduction and development plans, including on rural to urban migration, on migrants working in garment factories, teenage fertility and urban and rural disparities in reproductive and maternal health that have fed into the new policy, and other government poverty reduction and development plans. With UNFPA support, an action plan will be ready within a year.

International commitments underpinning the framework include the programme of action from the International Conference on Population and Development, which lays out a plan to advance human well-being with a focus on individual rights over numerical population targets.

The policy is also in line with, and timed to coincide with, the global goals for Sustainable Development; the 17 worldwide targets to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030 that were agreed by world leaders in September 2015.  

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Sophanara Pen, Communications Officer, UNFPA Cambodia: