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UNFPA, Partners, commemorate World Population Day

FREETOWN, 12 July 2021- The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sierra Leone, in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and Statistics Sierra Leone, celebrated this year’s World Population Day on Monday 12 July on the theme: ‘My body is my own: Claiming the right to autonomy and self-determination.

 

This year’s celebration, which took place at the Atlantic Hotel in Freetown, focused on popularizing and raising awareness of the State of the World Population-SoWP Report; the International Conference on Population Development-ICPD commitments & Demographic Dividend; the National Population Policy (NPP), and the 2019 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey (2019 SLDHS). These are critical to providing data for the status of women’s health and rights.

 

UNFPA’s global statement on the subject underlined that many justifications and theories had been put forward to justify depriving women and girls of their rights and choices and for making their bodies subject to the whims of others. It also stressed that “If these excuses are allowed to continue, none of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved by 2030. And that means the potential for human, social and economic progress envisioned by the international community in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would go unrealized to everyone’s detriment”.

 

Jocelyn Fenard underscored that making ‘Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’ a reality would require the establishment of a new partnership amongst the Government, the United Nations, development partners, Civil Society and the private sector to promote the rights of all women and adolescent girls. This is the main purpose of our presence here today’.

 

The UN Resident Coordinator, Babatunde A. Ahonsi in his statement, said every woman had the right to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. “What leads to healthy and productive societies is when women can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, and when they have access to services to support their choices. A woman who has control over her body gains not only in terms of autonomy but also through advances in health and education, income and safety. She is more likely to thrive, and so is her family. However, whilst the theme of this year’s World Population day commemoration is “My body is my own”, the question still lingers on how many women and girls can freely make that claim.”

 

The Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Jonathan Titus-Williams, said government had been working in addressing the gender challenges, mostly those related to reproductive health and rights, and improving population planning and management. He called on partners working on population and development issues to support and work towards addressing challenges facing the reproductive health and right of our young and women, and to strengthen the national capacity for improving the awareness of population issues with sound policies

 

Launching the SWoP Report the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Manty Tarawallie, said the theme was aligned with the National Population Policy; the 2019 Demography and Health Survey; the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Africa Union Agenda 2063. Government, she said, remained committed to fulfilling the overall goal of ending gender based violence and harmful practices, ending unmet need for family planning services, and ending preventable maternal deaths by 2030.

 

At the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population Development in Nairobi, Sierra Leone  committed to reduce the unmet need for Family Planning from 24.8% in 2019 by 20% in 2025, reduce the maternal mortality of 1,165 per 100,000 live births by 50% in 2028, enact the Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill which will criminalize child marriage for all types of marriages by the end of 2020, and to provide an inclusive platform for a broad range of stakeholders to come together around the universally applicable principle of rights and choices for all.

 

According to the 2021 SoWP Report, half of the women living in 57 developing countries are denied the right to choose their sex partners and to decide when to bear children by making use of contraceptives. They also lack the power to make a decision about their body, without the fear of violence.

 

Moderating this year’s event was Ms. Spencer-Coker, a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone and an inspirational advocate for the empowerment of women and girls always willing to serve in their interests. She is also Head of Advocacy and Movement Building, Purposeful Sierra Leone. 

 

For more information, contact:

John Baimba Sesay

Web and Media Analyst

Email: jsesay@unfpa.org

Tel: +232 30953193/ +23279369395