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Each year on 11 July, UNFPA celebrates World Population Day to draw attention to the most important population trends around the globe. This year’s celebrations are special as the global population is estimated to reach 8 billion in November 2022.


Such watershed moments in global population growth often generate strong and polarizing reactions. While some unequivocally celebrate population growth as a testament to the triumphs of humanity over science, medicine and technology, the alarmists among us view it as a potent symbol for the unsustainable relationship between our finite planet and our species.


Historically, these dramatic sentiments have led to attempts to arbitrarily control population growth, often by coercive means. At UNFPA, we believe such approaches are not only problematic, but ultimately ineffective.


In our view, what matters is not necessarily whether the global population is growing or shrinking, but that population growth is happening in accordance with the will and wishes of the women who are actually bearing the children. Population dynamics can only be sustainable when every woman has the power to choose whether, when and with whom they want to have children.


This is precisely the vision that UNFPA has aimed to realize in Bangladesh over the past decades. Together with the Directorate General of Family Planning and our other partners, we have taken great initiative to expand the availability of quality family planning services around the country and to educate local women on the benefits of birth spacing and other healthy practices related to pregnancy.


We have also taken major steps to strengthen legislation and monitoring mechanisms to prevent child marriages, which continue to be a major driver of the country’s high adolescent pregnancy rate. Furthermore, we have educated countless men and boys on women’s rights through our awareness raising sessions and life skills education programmes.


The purpose of these varied efforts has been to ensure that every woman in Bangladesh, regardless of their age, ethnicity or socio-economic status, is able to make informed and autonomous decisions over their reproductive health without fear of violence or coercion.


While a lot of work remains to be done, we are confident that the trail we are blazing is leading towards a Bangladesh, where every pregnancy is wanted and everyone’s family planning needs are met. We hope that Bangladesh’s example will inspire others to make a similar commitment to achieving universal reproductive rights.


For a world with 8 billion people can be sustainable if it is a world, where everyone’s human and reproductive rights are ensured. 


Kristine Blokhus
UNFPA Representative