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THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND COMMEMORATE WORLD POPULATION DAY ON 11 JULY 2017 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 July 2017

World Population Day is an annual event, commemorated on 11 July throughout the world. In 1989, the then Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recommended that 11 July be observed as World Population Day. As an outgrowth of the Day of Five Billion, marked on 11 July 1987, the day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, particularly in the context of overall development.

This year the international theme is “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations". Among others, the day seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of investing in family planning. In South Africa, family planning services form part of inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights – based services, which recognise the rights of couples and individuals to freely decide on the number and spacing of their children, as well as: • The sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents; • Freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; • Freedom from gender-based violence, including sexual violence; • The right of women to decide on matters pertaining to their own bodies; • Women’s right to terminate a pregnancy as provided for in the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. Access to safe, voluntary sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, is a human right, is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty. Yet, worldwide some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are currently not using safe and effective family planning methods. For South Africa, the Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) that was conducted by Statistics South Africa and the Department of Health in 2016 found that the overall use of modern contraception remained relatively high (58%), with a wide range of methods being utilised. The use of male condoms for contraception has increased since 1998: currently, 15% of women and their partners use male condoms as their contraceptive method. However, 18% of women continued to have an unmet family planning need. The SADHS 2016 provides a range of recent demographic information that contributes to the understanding of population dynamics in the country. The observed total fertility rate (TFR) for the 3 years preceding the survey was 2.6 children per woman (down from 2.9 in 1998). The age-specific fertility rate for teenagers was 71 births per 1,000 women age 15-19, showing little change since 1998. Importantly, the survey observed a drop in the under-5 mortality and the infant mortality rates to 42 deaths and 35 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively, for the 5 years preceding the survey. The neonatal mortality rate has also dropped to 21 deaths per 1,000 live births, accounting for about half of under-5 deaths. By 2016, 96% of delivery of children was in a clinic compared to 83% in 1998. Of these 97% were with a skilled health provider compared to 84% in 1998. The rights of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, on whether, when and how many children to have, brings women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, boosting family income levels. As women gain access to productive resources, they also report better health outcomes, achieve higher levels of education and experience a lower incidence of intimate-partner violence. These same positive effects are also true for their children. Adolescent girls who delay pregnancy tend to complete more years of schooling, and women with more years of school tend to have fewer children. Investments in family planning thus create a reinforcing cycle of empowerment, supporting healthy, educated and economically productive women and families. The National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Framework Strategy, which was adopted by Cabinet in 2015 to address challenges that have been identified in the area of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights, has made progress over the past two years in the areas of promoting comprehensive sexuality education in schools; young people’s access to information on sexual and reproductive health services; and community mobilisation of all stakeholders to work together to support adolescents, families and communities to better understand and respond to young people’s sexual and reproductive health needs and risks. ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT and the UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA) Media inquiries may be directed to Ms Lumka Oliphant on 083 484 8056 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it AND Ms Ziyanda Ngoma on 072 299 0868 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it