Women’s voice in family planning ‘fuels development’

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FOR women to reach their full potential and be more economically productive, they must be able to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether, when or how often, to have children, UNFPA Country Representative, Dr Hashina Begum said yesterday.

She was speaking during the commemoration of the 2017 World Population Day in Dar es Salaam, when she added that upholding such a right will lead to improvement in health and produce an array of benefits.

Dr Begum also insisted on investment in family planning (FP), saying it offers immense opportunities for women and the numbers speak for themselves, adding that research showed that for every dollar governments invest in FP, up to 6 US dollars can be saved in other development areas, such as poverty reduction, education or disaster preparedness projects.

“These economic indicators reinforce the life-changing impact family planning has for women and their families and further solidify the simple fact that family planning is a sound investment. Investing in FP is financing the health and rights of women and couples worldwide.

These investments yield economic and other gains that can propel development forward and are thus critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

The country representative went on pinpointing some more specific benefits of FP, saying that it prevents more than one-third of all maternal deaths worldwide, by allowing women to delay or space births, avoid unintended pregnancies and prevent unsafe abortions.

In 2008 alone, contraceptive use was estimated to avert 44.3 per cent of all maternal deaths worldwide. It was further noted that FP saves babies’ lives by enabling women to increase the time between pregnancies.

Evidence has long shown that babies born less than two years apart are more likely to die than those born at an interval of at least two years. Investing in FP was mentioned as a cost-effective intervention to reduce poverty and improve economic development wherein families and communities do benefit when there are fewer household dependents requiring economic and other resources.

Despite the call on further investment in FP, UNFPA appraised Tanzanian government’s endeavours, saying increase in the government allocation for FP services from 14bn/- to 17bn/- shows government’s commitment in the area. It was said that five billion has been allocated to FP budget for fiscal year 2016/17.

In fiscal year 2017/2018 the government allocated 14bn/-, an increase of 180 per cent from the last allocation.

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