Interestingly, the UN Population Fund’s State of the World Population 2018 indicates that India's population had registered more than double the population growth of China.
Worldwide, the trend towards nurturing small families is gaining ground and becoming a reflection of people making their reproductive choices, a new UNFPA report shows. No country can claim that all citizens enjoy full reproductive rights because for many couples, the choice is dependent on social and economic factors. However, it is the least developed countries that have recorded the highest population growth, such as some of the African countries. Interestingly, the UN Population Fund’s State of the World Population 2018 indicates that India’s population had registered more than double the population growth of China. According to the report, a family size is closely linked with reproductive rights, which in turn, are tied to several other rights such as the right to health, education and employment, among others. This means that in countries where people can exercise these rights and are not stifled, they tend to thrive.
A key observation in the report cites that when a woman has the power to prevent or to delay a pregnancy, it shows that she has more control over the choices related to her health. Also, a woman can choose to exercise her decision-making ability as to whether she wants to continue working and pursue her full economic potential.
Employment of youth is perhaps the most critical component that determines the power of choice when it comes to defining reproductive rights.
The report also shows that about half of India’s population that spans 24 states have already fulfilled the replacement fertility rate of 2.1 children per women. However, Indian youth will continue to trigger population growth even as the size of the ageing population increases.
“Choice can change the world,” writes Dr. Natalia Kanem in the foreword of the UNFPA report, as choice can improve the well-being of girls and women, accelerate global development and transform families.
The way forward is to prioritise the universal access to quality reproductive health care including contraceptives, age-appropriate sexuality education and cultivating a collective mindset that is supportive of the aspirations of women and children.