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World Population Day 2009


Partnerships for Population Stabilisation: World Population Day 2009
“I don’t want to get married before I finish school. I have seen with my own eyes my elder sister who was married at twelve, lose all her 3 children in infancy. Today she is physically weak and ill and detested by her in laws. I do not want such a fate for myself.”
Narrating her story at the World Population Day 2009 celebrations in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi was Rekha Kalindi, a diminutive but confident 13 year old from Purulia district in West Bengal who shot into the limelight when she refused to comply with her parents’ wishes to get married at the age of twelve.

The World Population Day 2009 with the theme ‘Partnership for Population Stabilisation’ sought to learn from and recognize initiatives that impact population stabilisation in the country from courageous individuals like Rekha, to government and corporate partnerships.

Delivering his Presidential Address at the occasion, the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad emphasised that the benefits of developments are being negated by the ever rising population which is the basic cause of many problems facing the country including poverty, unemployment and rising prices. Problems like Naxalism are also a reflection of this mismatch between population and resources.

Reminding the audience that India which has just 2.5% of the global land area contributes to about 17% of the world population, he said there is a need to refocus on population control in a concerted way of which delaying marriage and suitable gap between two children are possible solutions.

“Population control is in everybody’s interest and should be promoted from every available forum”, emphasized the Minister.

Already a billion plus, India in the coming decades is headed towards becoming the world’s most populous country. Fifty one percent of the population is in the young reproductive age group. Commenting on the projected demographic dividend for India, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Dinesh Trivedi said that in order to make country’s young population an asset for the future, there is an urgent need to promote education and awareness amongst them.

The challenges are many. A high percentage of girls marry by age eighteen in rural areas and begin child bearing soon after; thirty five lakh adolescent girls begin childbearing each year, high levels of child malnutrition persist even in prosperous states, high levels of illiteracy among married women limit their capacity to negotiate their reproductive rights. Meeting these challenges is essential to stabilise the population for promoting sustainable development and equitable growth.

The former Union Minister and Member of Parliament Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh described the rising population as one of the most critical problems facing the country. “We need to do three things to stabilise population – Increase awareness generation, build people's participation and have transparency and strict vigilance to tackle this problem” he said.

Partnerships for Population Stabilization between government and civil society, public and private sector are the need of the hour.

Jansankhya Sthirata Kosh (JSK) has partnered with Jindal Steel Works (JSW), Nehru Yuvak Kendra Sangathan to implement Prerna a strategy that awards couples for demonstrating their Responsible Parenthood practises of marrying after legal age and birth spacing.

4 Prerna awardee couples from Orissa, Chattisgarh and Barmer were felicitated on the occasion by the Union Health Minister. Narrating her personal experiences, Surekha Patel from Rajnandgaon, Chattisgarh recalled that when she did not produce a child within a year of marriage, friends and family used to taunt her. But when she and her husband were selected for the Prerna Award, they were praised by the same people for being samajhdaar. She acknowledges the supportive role that her husband played in spacing the birth of their child.

Also speaking on the occasion were Ms Kiran Walia, Health Minister, Govt of NCT Delhi; Mr Sandeep Dixit, MP; Ms Shailaja Chandra, former Chief Secretary, Govt of NCP Delhi and former Executive Director JSK on JSK’s initiatives with civil society; Mr Gopi Gopalakrishnan, Founder, JANANI and President World Health Partners on the experience of partnerships in Bihar; Mr T. V. Antony, National Advisor on Population Stabilisation on the Rajasthan experience and Mr Ravi Jain, District Collector, Barmer, Rajasthan.

Mr Amarjeet Sinha, Joint Secretary MoHFW and Executive Director JSK addressing the gathering focused on the huge unmet demand for contraception in the most problematic states of Bihar, UP, Jharkhand Orissa and Chattisgarh and stressed on the need for partnerships at all levels for making services available to the people.

JSK in collaboration with Network 18 has produced 3 spots on issues of child marriage, teenage pregnancies and male child preference that were also shown on the occasion.

World Population day 2009 in News:

 NDTV (July 11, 2009)

 Business Standard (July 15, 2009)

 PIB (July 11, 2009)

 The Times Of India (July 11, 2009)

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