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Acting UNFPA ED message on WPD 2017


BIRTH SPACING: empowering people, developing nations

Dr. Natalia Kanem

Acting Executive Director

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund

11 July 2017

Every day, vulnerable women, especially those who are poor and are refugees, face social, economic and geographic obstacles to voluntary birth spacing services and information.

Fifty years ago today, the then-Secretary-General of the United Nations established UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, as a trust fund. And since 1969, when UNFPA began operations, it has been helping to remove obstacles to birth spacing and to enable women to exercise their reproductive rights.

UNFPA contributed to a near doubling of modern contraceptive use worldwide, from 36 per cent in 1970 to 64 per cent in 2016.

Despite the dramatic progress, enormous challenges remain: some 214 million women in developing countries lack safe and effective birth spacing methods. Most of these women live in the 69 poorest countries. 

Better reproductive health care, including voluntary birth spacing, can bolster economies and contribute to sustainable development by empowering women to complete their education, join the paid labour force, be more productive in their jobs, earn higher incomes and increase savings and investments.

Investments in BIRTH SPACING help lead to prosperity for all.

Birth spacing, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, to end poverty. It is also key to achieving other Goals, such as ending hunger as well as promoting good health and gender equality.

UNFPA has set an ambitious, transformative goal to eliminate all unmet demand for birth spacing by 2030. On this World Population Day, we call on all governments and stakeholders to help achieve this goal.

UNFPA also calls on the 179 governments that endorsed the Programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development to fulfil their commitments to achieve universal access to reproductive health, including voluntary BIRTH SPACING. Not only is this a matter of protecting health and rights, but it is also a matter of investing in economic development as well as humanity’s prosperity and progress.