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Eradicate poverty 'through voluntary family planning'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Monday 17th October is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) calls for increased support for family planning programmes. Investing in sexual and reproductive health reduces poverty by contributing to economic growth and increasing household incomes.

NZPPD Chair Dr. Jackie Blue says "Improving family planning services in the Pacific will help reduce poverty in the region. Family planning is a cost effective intervention and an essential building block for economic development. Contraceptives are the cornerstone of family planning and yet a 2008 study of Solomon Islands youth found that 38 percent said the main reason they did not use a condom was because it was not easily available."

Globally, 215 million women would like to stop childbearing or space their next birth but they are not using a modern form of contraception. When women and couples are able to access sexual and reproductive health services, in particular family planning, they can have the number of children they choose. Poorer families often want fewer children so that they can invest in the children they do have, ensuring they gain an education and are well nourished.

As individual men and women choose to have smaller family sizes, they are able to divert their spare attention from child-rearing and household activities to other activities, such as gaining an income. Greater household income can lead to increased investment in nutrition, shelter, health and schooling.

At a national level, this increased participation in the labour force contributes to national economic growth. Studies have shown that between 25 and 40 percent of macroeconomic growth can be attributed to population change, and half of this to the reduction of fertility. Decreased fertility can also reduce the demand for, and therefore the cost of, basic social services.

"If women and girls have more control over their lives, particularly with respect to family planning, overall development prospects will improve for everyone." Says Dr Blue.

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