According to the UNFPA’s report dubbed “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and rights in an Age of Inequality”, the costs of inequalities, including sexual reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals.
The report warned that failure to provide reproductive health services, including family planning to the poorest women can weaken economies and sabotage progress toward the number one sustainable development goal, to eliminate poverty.
Speaking when launching the report yesterday in Dar es Salaam, UNFPA country director Jacqueline Mahon called for collective efforts to end inequality in the country including investing in reproductive health as well as education to produce a nation of health and literate people.
According to her, in many developing countries including Tanzania, women still lag behind in key decision making processes including the family planning decisions and education.
“In order to burry inequality, we need to build an inclusive society that respects and care for each other,” he said.
Mahom said that the UNFPA Strategic Plan of 2018-2021 aims at eliminating maternal deaths, unintended pregnancies and fight gender based violence and circumcision.
She noted that limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually. This not only harms women’s health, but also restricts women's ability to join or stay in the paid labour force and move towards financial independence, the report argues.
For his part, Deputy minister for Health, Community development, Gender, Children and Elderly Dr Faustine Ndugulile said that the government now eyes more to investing on improving health services especially reproductive health and family planning to reduce maternal deaths and improve lives.
He said that as the country’s population was increasing every year the government focus more on education and industrialisation to ensure that the country produces eligible people to drive the industrialisation goal.
In her statement, UNFPA executive director Dr Natalia Kanem said; “Inequality in countries today is not only about the haves and have nots, Inequality is increasingly about the cans and can nots. Poor women who lack the means to make their own decisions about family size or who are in poor health because of inadequate reproductive health care dominate the ranks of the cannot.”
She said that economic inequality reinforces and is reinforced by other inequalities, including those in women’s health, where only privileged few are able to control their fertility, and, as a result, can develop skills, enter the paid labour force and gain economic power.
“In most developing countries, the poorest women have the fewest options for family planning, the least access to antenatal care and are most likely to give birth without the assistance of a doctor or midwife.”
Countries that want to tackle economic inequality can start by tackling other inequalities, such as in reproductive health and rights, and tearing down social, institutional and other obstacles that prevent women from realising their full potential,” Dr Kanem said.