Family planning,a panacea to achieving a demographic dividend

As  the  world braces  for the family planning summit scheduled for 11 July 2017 , a lot of issues are  set to  be on the discussion table  ranging from modern family planning  methods ,their safety and other new researchs  that are vital to women’s and girls  health. The summit draws in  policy makers ,donors and the academia to try and make family planning work  to achieve  a demographic dividend in each and every part of the globe  as this helps reduce poverty  . When families are smaller ,they have a greater chance of living a better life opposed to when  families are big  .  This blog focuses much on the importance of family planning in achieving a demographic dividend.

 To begin with , it  is absurd  to note that millions  of women in developing countries are unable to choose the number, time and spacing of their children and consequently  have more  children than they desire .

This is mainly attributed to lack of  modern family planning methods, and in some cases  religious and traditional laws subjugate women and forbid them to use family planning methods, this clearly bottlenecks the ability of women to have autonomy over their bodies  and most importantly their right to choose when to have children and when to stop.

This is worrisome especially when   developing countries wish to achieve  demographic dividend. Economic growth may take place, but when there is overpopulation, chances of everyone being able to fully benefit from resources available becomes limited.

From the researchers definition, Demographic dividend is the accelerated economic growth that results from a sharp decline in a country’s mortality and fertility and the change in the age structure of the population.

A demographic dividend  can only be achieved if a country’s young dependent population grows smaller in relation to the working  age population.

Research has also showed that with fewer people to support, a country has a Window of opportunity for a speedy economic growth.

This clearly highlights the importance of    men and women to actually come out of  their silos and be advocates of change on the family planning issue.

In as much as family planning issues in developing countries is primarily a women’s issue, men  need to be on forefront  in making sure proper and consistent  family planning methods are being used within their families. Failure to do that, the burden of looking after many young dependent children falls heavily on them as their governments are currently not in any better position to look after their children.

The recent move by UNFPA to introduce male family planning pill is a positive step in helping developing countries reduce their family sizes.This also is a positive step in achieving a demographic dividend.

Furthermore , Birth control also is critical to women’s health, equality and economic security. When a woman has few children, she has the ability to feed them and being able to give them meaningful education  which will not make these children dependants in the future.

If men agree to take the family planning pill and also  talk about family planning issues with their families, the chances are high that families will become smaller, healthy and demographic  dividend will take place.

The only problem is that people resist change, they fear that it will bring elements of uncertainty, but in order to achieve a demographic dividend which is much needed, change should be given the opportunity to breed and grow!

Gender equality, a pie in the sky?

Gender goes beyond being male or female,it traces down to how men and women have been socially constructed, role playing and issues of power .Gender on its own is difficult because it teaches us ‘what we ought to be, turning a blind eye on who we really are’ . It is therefore clear that gender is a diverse and complex subject which needs to be addressed not by a “one size fits all approach” but rather a holistic one is plausable.

Ever since the emancipation of women have become a rallying cry to those opposed to the conservatism of men globally, some  male dominated communities reluctantly relinquished power and paved way for women to lead sectors of the economy that were once a preserve for men.

This was a stepping stone  for   women’s associations  who for quite a long time  have been waging  tireless advocacy for the equitable power sharing.

However  amid all these efforts to tilt scales of imbalance, gender inequality  continue to haunt and subjugate women in all forms.

Violence, which is undeniably one one of the offsprings of gender inequality, affects girls and women at every   age and stage of life, that’s why it still remains important to fight gender inequality at every age and stage of life.

International estimates indicate that more than 60 million women aged 20-24 years were forced into early child marriage before they reached 18 years.
women’s voices in cases like these are shadowed because African societies strongly believe the male has a final decision.These males are the very same perpetrators of violence and are also forcefully marrying under-age girls .

This insatiable hunger and barbaric behavior being displayed by male counterparts has got to stop.culture is not static, it moves with time, so do we .people can’t keep on doing the same things that were once a burden to women centuries ago. If culture is being used as an opium to make women docile of what they are supposed to fight for, then may we stand and reject it!

It’s very unfortunate that gender equality for most women in various parts of the world will remain ” a pie in the sky ” if women  don’t take it upon themselves to  eradicate gender inequality not  in theory alone but putting it into practicality .

Its worrisome that women instead of fighting for the same cause of tilting scales of gender inequality, they are playing a rivalry against each other.one practical example is that of the Minister of Women’s and Gender in UK  who pays women in her ministry less compared to their male counterparts who hold the same positions. If women themselves don’t believe and practice equality,our male counterparts will use that informed ignorance to further suppress us.

Taking a closer look at Nigeria, just recently the Senate passed a bill which clealy  dismisses all hope of attaining gender equality.

This is not good especially when a lot of funds have been availed to promote gender equality.
The international agreements such as the Beijing Declaration have they been seriously implemented, gender equality would have now flourished globally considering the amount of money that has so far been injected towards that.

I then arguably believe that ,change of attitude is the only ingredient lacking in making sure gender equality is attainable. People have heard and are fully aware of how gender inequality affects women in many societies, but their attitudes have remained the same .
Endorsing something is by no means a guarantee that its going to practised .

Unless people change their attitude in terms of how they view gender , for so many societies attaining gender equality will only remain “a pie in the sky”.

What is being done wrong or what is being overlooked by gender advocates leaves a lot to be desired, but everyone has a role to play.

Child marriages leaves young women vulnerable to Fistula

Child marriage isn’t just a violation of girls rights, it leaves them vulnerable to all forms of fistula.

A fistula is  a passage or hole that has formed between the two organs in one’s body .Obstetric  fistula  is the major type of fistula  that affects women in developing

 

Many  young women and old women who were married off when they were still young  live with fistula, they dread telling their life experiences.they end up living as outcasts  in the community as  fistula is still being viewed as a curse  for sexual immorality .

Statistics  has it that 2 million women in developing  countries are living with fistula, and because its a silent  disease, most choose to be silenced by their condition and give up on hope of ever leading normal lives  again.

When one has a prolonged and obstructed  labour  it may lead to obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening that develop between the birth canal and the urinary tract.Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and Obstetric fistula are the common types of fistula in developing countries.

It is normally an indicator of poor quality of obstetric care in developing countries where this type of disease is  rampant.

Young girls whose birth canals are still narrow  , experience  fistula as the head of the baby presses really hard on the mother’s bladder causing a tear which  if not surgically repaired will cause leakage of urine continuously.

 

“For three years I have  lived with  fistula, my husband left me when I was 16 years old.for the past three years I haven’t  worn any underwear because  urine was  always leaking.I developed sores on my genitals that never  healed.nobody wanted to stay close to me because of the bad smell which usually repelled them off.

My mother thought I was bewitched  because the baby died  while  I was in labour, it took me 6 hours to get to the nearest  clinic, I was  in so much pain .when  I finally arrived the nurses ignored  me, actually they were scolding me for getting pregnant at a tender age.

When my husband heard I had  delivered a dead  baby,  he called me a witch” Nyaradzai’s story is a reflection of many cases of young women living with fistula in Zimbabwe and other developing countries.

 

Fistula is curable, but awareness is still low in developing countries. If we can eradicate child marriages, we have a greater chance of mitigating all forms of fistula.