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The Power of Choice: Launch of 2018 State of World Population Report in Zambia

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in Zambia is pleased to announce the official launch of the State of World Population 2018 report entitled “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition”. The report was launched in Zambia on 17 October 2018 by Mr. Mushuma Mulenga, Permanent Secretary (Development Cooperation, Monitoring and Evaluation) in the Ministry of National Development Planning.

The State of World Population 2018 report is about global fertility trends, but it is also about choice--or a lack of it--and what that means for women, for couples, and for countries’ prospects for development.

The report makes the case that choice can change the world.

Choice is about having the power and the means to make your own decisions about whether, when or how often to have children, and how that power affects other choices in life.

Choice, however, is not yet a reality for all people everywhere, and this is reflected in today’s vastly different fertility rates around the world.

Over the past decade, Zambia has recorded significant progress in securing reproductive rights and choices for women and men. Currently, about 1 in every 2 women (45%) aged 15 to 49 years have the power and the means to make their own decisions about whether, when or how often to have children, through the use of modern methods of contraception, which in 2017 enabled the country prevent 600 maternal deaths; 10,000 unintended pregnancies; and 6,000 unsafe abortions.

Speaking during the official launch of the report held alongside a Public Lecture at the University of Zambia, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Development Planning Mr. Mushuma Mulenga, as well as the UNFPA Zambia Representative Ms. Gift Malunga, underscored that societies can only thrive and prosper when women and girls finanlly gain the power to make free and informed decisions in all spheres of life. 

As Zambia moves towards achieving its development aspirations articulated in the 7th National Development Plan (2017-2021), as well as its Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle-income country alongside the Sustainable Development Goals, it is important that we collectively invest in intensified actions to extend choices to all, starting with those who have been left behind. This includes priority actions towards achieving the targets outlined in the National Family Planning Scale-Up Plan (2013-2020), which aims to reduce unmet need for Family Planning from the current 21% to 14% by 2020.

UNFPA believes that such concerted efforts will enable the fulfillment of women and men’s reproductive rights and ensure Zambia contributes to the global and national shared vision of ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths by 2030, as underscored in the message of the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem that “the State of World Population 2018 calls on countries to confront their demographic challenges not through fewer choices, but rather by enhancing rights and choices”.

The launch of the State of World Population Report 2018 is also the launch of a renewed effort by UNFPA to ensure rights and choices for all. In 2019, UNFPA will lead the global effort to extend choices to all who have been left behind so that by 2030, the target year for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, there are:

  • Zero unmet need for modern contraception
  • Zero preventable maternal deaths
  • Zero gender-based violence or practices that harm women and girls.

Choice can be a reality everywhere. But to get there, countries need to empower women to have the number of children they really want.