girls.jpgOn 11 July 2009 World Population Day was observed worldwide. The main focus of this year’s World Population Day: investing in women and girls. Investments in education and health for women and girls have been linked to increases in productivity, agricultural yields, and national income — all of which contribute to the achievement of the MDGs. Investments by governments worldwide have raised school enrolment rates, narrowed the gender gap in education, brought life-saving drugs to people living with AIDS, expanded HIV prevention, delivered bed nets to prevent malaria, and improved child health through immunization.

girls.jpgOn 11 July 2009 World Population Day was observed worldwide. The main focus of this year’s World Population Day: investing in women and girls. Investments in education and health for women and girls have been linked to increases in productivity, agricultural yields, and national income — all of which contribute to the achievement of the MDGs. Investments by governments worldwide have raised school enrolment rates, narrowed the gender gap in education, brought life-saving drugs to people living with AIDS, expanded HIV prevention, delivered bed nets to prevent malaria, and improved child health through immunization.

girls.jpg“Investing in women’s health can save the lives of a half a million mothers”, - the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for World Population Day. “In the midst of the worst global economic crisis in generations, we must find the most effective ways to continue progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. There is no better path than the focus of this year’s World Population Day: investing in women and girls. As budgets tighten, the crisis threatens to wipe out hard-won progress in improving health and reducing poverty. When household incomes decline, girls are more likely to drop out of school. When profits decline, women are more likely to lose their employment and sources of income.

When health systems suffer, women risk childbirth without life-saving services. Even before the crisis, a mother died every minute in pregnancy and childbirth, nearly all in developing countries where the crisis has pushed women deeper into poverty. Investing in girls’ education delivers well-known returns.

When girls are educated, they are more likely to earn higher wages and obtain better jobs, to have fewer and healthier children and to enjoy safer childbirth. And investing in women’s health, especially reproductive health, can not only save the lives of half a million mothers, but also unleash an estimated $15 billion in productivity each year.

As we commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, let us accelerate efforts to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

On this World Population Day, I call on decision makers to protect women’s ability to earn income, keep their daughters in school, and obtain reproductive health information and services, including voluntary family planning. Together, let us advance the rights of women and girls, and empower them as highly productive members of society capable of contributing to economic recovery and growth. There can be no better investment on this day or any other.”

As stated in the message by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director, “Today, as we commemorate World Population Day, the global financial and economic crisis threatens to reverse hard-won gains in education and health in developing countries. Among those hardest hit are women and girls. This is why the theme of this year’s World Population Day focuses on investing in women. Even before the crisis, women and girls represented the majority of the world’s poor. Now they are falling deeper into poverty and face increased health risks, especially if they are pregnant.

Our world today is too complex and interconnected to see problems in isolation of each other. When a mother dies, when an orphan child does not get the food or education he needs, when a young girl grows into a life without opportunities, the consequences extend beyond the existence of these individuals. They diminish the society as a whole and lessen chances for peace, prosperity and stability.

Today, on World Population Day, I call on all leaders to make the health and rights of women a political and development priority. Investing in women and girls will set the stage not only for economic recovery, but also for long-term economic growth that reduces inequity and poverty. There is no smarter investment in troubled times“.

More information on World Population Day: http://www.unfpa.org/wpd/2009/en/.