Investing in women's rights to build demographic resilience
As the world becomes 8 billion strong, it's time to move the conversation from numbers to rights and choices of women and girls to build a resilient and healthier future for all, said Annette Sachs Robertson, UNFPA Asia-Pacific Deputy Regional Director.
The world's population will reach 8 billion in November this year. "This is a moment to celebrate human progress. People are living longer and healthier lives across the globe," Robertson said.
With around 4.3 billion residents, which is half the world's population, Asia-Pacific is a demographically diverse region, she said. The region includes China and India — the world's most populous countries — as well as the Pacific island nations, which are home to the world's smallest populations.
Robertson added that extreme demographic diversity is seen across the region — from countries experiencing youth bulges such as in Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea, to countries experiencing low fertility, such as in China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam.
"To face this demographic diversity, we must build demographic resilience. The solution is not more or fewer people. The solution is more and equal access to opportunities for all," she said.
The deputy regional director said that as the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA advocates for a world where every woman has the right to decide if, when, and how many children to have.
"Sustainable development can only be achieved if women have autonomy over their bodies," Robertson said. "It is only when women and girls across the region can make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health that we can build demographic resilience across Asia and the Pacific."