African Parliamentarians Strongly Committed To Population And Development read full article at

By Cecilia Russell

Many Ghanian Members of Parliament (MPs) champion adolescent reproductive well being rights to cease the apply of kid marriage, which is prevalent in some areas of the nation regardless that the nation’s Structure and Kids’s Act outlaw it, Dr Rashid Pelpuo (MP) advised IPS in an unique interview.

Pelpuo, who’s President of the African Parliamentarians Discussion board on Inhabitants and Growth, additionally mentioned it had turn into “regular apply” for MPs to work to assist youth and “lead discussions on problems with household planning and adolescent reproductive well being at youth sensitization programmes.”

He advised IPS the Presidents of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and the African Parliamentarians Discussion board on Inhabitants and Growth acknowledge: “Our shared curiosity in, dedication to, and present cooperation on inhabitants and improvement points resembling sexual and reproductive well being and rights, together with household planning and HIV/AIDS…” This dedication is predicted to be signed in a memorandum of understanding in 2023.

Listed here are excerpts from the interview:

IPS: Whereas Ghana’s Structure and its Kids’s Act each outlaw baby marriage, based on a study, 1 in 5 women get married earlier than age 18 and 1 in 20 earlier than they’re 20. These marriages are extra frequent within the northern areas.

How are parliamentarians coping with these points?

RP: The difficulty of kid marriage in Ghana is traceable to an age-old custom of marrying girls early ‘earlier than they’re spoiled’ – a lady who has ‘identified a person’ earlier than marriage was a shame to the household that has introduced her up. Although this case now not exists, the apply of early marriage of ladies continues, particularly in rural Ghana.

Parliamentarians of the Inhabitants and Growth Caucus and others are sturdy advocates in opposition to this apply each in and outdoors Parliament.

Based on the Ghanaian 1992 Structure and the Kids’s Act, it’s illegal to marry a lady earlier than she’s 18 years of age. In a couple of circumstances when such legal guidelines are violated by a person who marries earlier than the minimal age and even earlier than the woman has completed her fundamental training, MPs will usually work with legislation enforcers to free the woman and assist prosecute the offender.

A very good variety of MPs have signed on as champions of adolescent reproductive well being and rights and are key supporters of household life training. This 12 months alone, MPs have labored with the United Nations Inhabitants Fund (UNFPA) in key areas to work together with younger individuals and handle their well being and training challenges by referrals.

IPS: West Africa’s inhabitants accounts for about 30% of Africa’s inhabitants. From roughly 367 million individuals in the present day, it’s anticipated to extend to virtually 570 m by 2035. Nonetheless, the area is but to learn from the ‘demographic dividend.’ Many say {that a} excessive inhabitants of youth is a problem for the federal government; there’s a excessive value of well being care, training, and different companies and excessive ranges of unemployment. How are parliamentarians working in direction of insurance policies which will scale back fertility charges, enhance training, household planning, and so on.?

RP: The fertility charge in Ghana is 3.696 births per lady (Ghana Statistical Service, 2022), as in opposition to the fertility charge of Africa at 4.212 births per lady. Ghana’s fertility charge has been persistently declining since 1985 and is predicted to be 2.9 births per lady in 2025. As a part of efforts to sensitize the general public about unplanned delivery and avoidance of teenage being pregnant, Parliamentarians typically work together with youth leaders together with consultants on the problem of reproductive well being.

For instance, in November final 12 months, MPs interacted with younger individuals about points with their reproductive well being. Additionally, in the beginning of December 2022, on the event of the delivery of the world’s 8 billionth baby, MPs held a workshop, with the UNFPA sponsorship, to view the implications of getting a world inhabitants of 8 billion on Ghana.

After that programme, the MPs pledged to revise their annual advocacy on Ghana’s inhabitants progress and considerations to quarterly advocacy via statements on the ground of Parliament. The thrust of MPs’ work in supporting the training and consciousness of the youth is in coverage advocacy and direct interplay with the youth. It has turn into regular apply for MPs to guide discussions on household planning and adolescent reproductive well being points at youth sensitization programmes.

A piece of the programme of the African Parliamentarians Discussion board, typically sponsored by the Asian Inhabitants and Growth Affiliation (APDA) and the UNFPA, facilities on problems with household planning, reproductive well being, and common well being. This seems to be a direct response to the excessive fertility charge of sub-Saharan Africa at 4.6 births per lady (World Financial institution Report, 2021). Figuring out the frequent incidence of teenage being pregnant and unplanned births all through the continent, it has turn into a vital effort to sink house the necessity for coverage advocacy in these areas for all African nations.

In a memorandum, but to be signed by the Presidents of the Pan African Parliament and the African Parliamentarians Discussion board on Inhabitants and Growth, Parliamentarians acknowledged “our shared curiosity in, dedication to, and present cooperation on inhabitants and improvement points resembling sexual and reproductive well being and rights together with household planning and HIV/AIDS…”

IPS: In Ghana, the maternal mortality charge is shrinking. Figures quoted on-line are that it’s 308 per 100,000. It’s a lot greater in different nations within the area; in Ghana’s neighbor Nigeria, the speed stands at 917/100,000. Whereas each appear to be happening (which is nice), they’re a great distance from the 70/100,000 within the SDG 3 targets. What are parliamentarians working towards to enhance this in Ghana? Is there regional cooperation to deal with this?

RP: Parliamentarians typically make coverage statements on maternal well being directed on the ruling authorities to deal with the priority concerning the unacceptable scenario of excessive maternal deaths in Ghana. Points on maternal dying are paramount in our well being insurance policies. Ghana has launched a Free Maternal Well being Care Coverage (FMHCP) on which pregnant girls register at no cost medical insurance and obtain free medical care. Parliamentarians have performed an advocacy position in growing this coverage and have been reaching out to girls who might not be conscious of it to assist them reap the benefits of it. The affect has been very optimistic (and exhibits) in annual enhancements in maternity well being.

There was regional cooperation in discussing and sharing data on Common Well being Care and reproductive well being and rights. The African Parliamentarians discussion board has had plenty of conferences and conferences with their counterparts from different areas, particularly with the Asian and European Parliamentarians boards that contact on points on reproductive well being and coverage sharing. Main cooperation in areas of maternal well being is recorded in varied worldwide conferences that sort out the issues of excessive maternal mortality. Such conferences embrace Partnership for Maternal, New child and Baby Well being (PMNCH), New Delhi, India, in December 2018, and Ladies Ship (Africa Parliamentarians), Vancouver, Canada, in June 2019. Such arenas of cooperation give comparative understanding of how varied nations throughout areas sort out reproductive well being challenges.

IPS: May you elaborate on APDA’s position in facilitating regional cooperation on the ICPD25 programme of motion?

The Asian Inhabitants and Growth Affiliation (APDA) was established in Japan as a Non-Governmental Group directed at addressing the challenges posed by points on inhabitants and improvement. It serves because the Secretariat of the Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Inhabitants (JPFP) and directs its deal with the position of the Japanese MPs and their counterparts in Asia, Africa, Arab and different areas. APDA’s analysis focuses on three major areas, that are gender, well being, and social coverage points. For the reason that institution of the ICPD 25 as a spotlight space of intervention, APDA has organized varied programmes.

APDA typically organizes conferences in Asia, Africa, and the Center East below ICPD 25 thematic areas. These conferences typically deliver collectively varied parliamentarians from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe to deal with essential points on inhabitants and improvement. Points resembling youth unemployment and different targets of ICPD25 are heart stage on the conferences.

Certainly annually, APDA, in collaboration with the UNFPA, organizes annual conferences on ICPD25. In current occasions APDA has organized webinars and conferences for regional participation each in June, July and September 2022.

In September 2022, the convention with the theme “The Function of Parliamentarians in Realizing the ICPD25 Commitments” was patronized by Asian and African Parliamentarians.

One other follow-up assembly on ICPD25 Commitments was held in June 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was supported by UNFPA ESARO and Japan Belief Fund (JTF) with cooperation from the Worldwide Deliberate Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Greater than 100 individuals, together with parliamentarians, officers of nationwide committees on inhabitants and improvement, and UN consultants, attended.

In impact, APDA has all the time supported the implementation of the ICPD25 in varied methods however principally via worldwide conferences that guarantee regional cooperation and participation.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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