11 July 2018, GENEVA – The Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, calls for enhanced access to family planning and comprehensive reproductive health care for women worldwide.
The Geneva Centre’s Chairman made this call to action on the occasion of the 2018 World Population Day which is observed on 11 July. In his statement, Dr. Al Qassim emphasized that “preventative family planning is a positive pvehicle for promoting sustainable population growth and for promoting the status of women.”
He referred to the “Protection of the Family” resolution - adopted on 22 June 2017 by the UN – to be a standard-bearer in promoting and upholding international human rights standards on the right to family life, and is a good starting-point to further promoting sustainable population growth through accessibility to family planning and reproductive healthcare for women worldwide.
Lack of access to family planning remains a major concern in many countries. UNFPA estimates that approximately 214 million women in developing countries “are not using safe and effective family planning methods.” The contributing factors to this ominous trend relate to overpopulation, lack of access to family planning services, child marriage and women disempowerment.
Dr. Al Qassim said: “Access to safe family planning is central to enhance women’s empowerment and gender equality. It enables women to be in the driver’s seat of their own development and achieve their full potential as full-fledged members of society.”
In this context, Dr. Al Qassim noted that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of the United Nations has commended the efforts made by Morocco, Algeria, Jordan and Oman for enhancing the role of women in the family. He appealed to all countries in the Arab region to enhance access to family planning programs so as to meet future needs related to reproductive health care for women.
In conclusion, the Geneva Centre’s Chairman likewise called upon UN member States to implement concrete plans to address target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This target requires the world community to eliminate all forms of harmful practices including early and forced child marriage to advance the status of girls and women worldwide.
Dr. Al Qassim, noting that early marriage continues to occur in different regions of the developing world including the MENA region, explained that the situation varies as between Arab countries with some legislation prohibiting marriage below the age of 20 while others do not stipulate any minimum age. Dr. Al Qassim called on all States in the region to consider fixing by law the minimum age of marriage at 18.