The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Thursday, May 30, 2019 celebrated its 50th anniversary, 25th International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) during which the 2019 state of the world population report was launched.
Launching the report in Monrovia, Vice President Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor said "as we celebrate today, let us be reminded that the 2019 report shows that while much has been attained, much more remains to be done in fulfillment of UNFPA's key role - as the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled."
She said this agenda which stipulates the pursuit of rights and choices for all are ongoing, with new challenges emerging constantly.
According to her, some of these challenges are questions about what the future holds in terms of changes in population growth, contraceptive use, sexual and reproductive health and women's rights and responsibilities, adding "the answers and plans of action will be determined by not only the ability of women and girls to aspire to achieve their full potential as members of their societies; but will be determined by the National Political will of Leaders the World over and by how both Governments and Civil Society Actors consider the ICPD achievements and remain committed to addressing the shortfalls."
However, he said sadly, Liberia, is an example of the critical need for a strong political will across all sectors to implement programs previously committed to; especially for gender equity and the elimination of negative social customs such as FGM from our social spaces.
"It is my hope that the example as indicated will provide an added impetus to the UN Family to further engage and ensure that the commitments are realized and goals met," she stated.
She thanked UNFPA Team for producing a report detailing the state of the world's population with Liberia included which provides a basis for its inclusion in the 2019 - 2020 National Budget of the Government of Liberia in its commitment for the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD); as well as its commitment to working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to her, the report gives a clear demographic, economic and social outlook of the State of our Population, which will help Government and Development partners in prioritizing the sectors which are in dire need of financial interventions and support, "especially when one looks at the brief Summary of the Report which states that half of Liberia's population is less than 18 years old.
This singular statistics brings to bear the urgent need for a new paradigm shifting of priorities which should ensure that the new outlook considers not only the attending hopes and aspirations of this critical segment of our population; but puts in place holistic plans and programs which when harnessed can engender a new wave of energy and enthusiasm in driving our country to not only rapid growth and sustained economic development, but also engenders tenants of Unity, Inclusiveness and a Patriotic Spirit which will truly LIFT LIBERIA; For the Youth are the custodians of our country's present and future and can be considered the "DOUBLE-EDGE SWORD"; for if they feel a sense of abandonment can be used to reverse the gains we made; but when they feel a sense of inclusiveness, attention and empowerment, they can become rapid agents of change, innovators and key drivers of the country's growth and development; thus sustaining the gains made thus far."
As a gender advocate, the Vice President said she is particularly concerned about the status of our Nation's educational sector as projected in the report; which indicated that between the ages 10 - 24 years, 72% males and 64% females are literate.
This, she said, calls for a more robust gender equality regime needed now more than ever before, adding "we, both Government and our International Partners and Friend, must begin to look at specific plans which will enable us to take a more critical look at the entire educational system of Liberia; inculcate a new EDUCATIONAL REGIME; find new sources of funding for higher levels of investment in education; hence creating an enlightened population, a sine qua non to the growth and development we so urgently need.
The idea of education being the primary pillar for growth and development is not a new one, but has been eloquently stated by African Statesman and Icon, Madiba Nelson Mandela which states: EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD," she said.
For his part, UNFPA Resident Representative to Liberia, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi said since UNFPA came to Liberia in 1973, it has been working with the government and other partners to support the country in several sectors including health, education, among others.
He said UNFPA has stayed with Liberia both in good and bad times and working in the area of maternal health and strengthening the health system.
Dr. Ndyanabangi also said UNFPA has worked in Liberia to restore the dignity of girls and women who experienced fistula.
Fistula is a condition that women experience during child birth which makes them to urinate and defecate on themselves unknowingly as a result of complications.
He disclosed that UNFPA, with support from partners, has repaired about 1,600 fistula survivors with several hundreds rehabilitated and integrated into the community.
Dr. Ndyanabangi, however, acknowledged that despite progress UNFPA has made in Liberia, much remains to be done.
He referenced the high teenage pregnancies in Liberia as one of several areas that UNFPA, together with the government and partners, needs to focus more.
The UNFPA-Liberia boss assured of his organization's continuous support to Liberia.