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African Parliamentarians Strongly Committed to Population and Development

African Parliamentarians Strongly Committed to Population and Development

President of the African Parliamentarians Forum on Population and Development, Pelpuo, has made it a point to ensure that lawmakers within Africa champion topics regarding family planning and adolescent reproductive health. He believes young people should be at the forefront when discussing such matters; thus MPs actively support them while engaging in meaningful conversations during youth sensitization programmes. 

In 2023, two key African nations will join forces to strengthen their commitment and cooperation around population and development — such as sexual rights, family planning, and HIV/AIDS. The Presidents of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) And Africa's Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development have recognized this shared interest in working together towards a common goal: improving quality of life for all citizens across the continent. 

Despite clear legal boundaries, Ghana's culture often still pressures young girls into marriage. A startling one in five are married before the age of 18 and a further 1 out of 20 becoming brides by their twentieth birthday – particularly so in northern regions. This deeply concerning situation faces strong opposition from all sides: Parliamentarians have been active on the field, taking decisive steps to protect vulnerable children whose futures should not be determined based off tradition alone. 

In Ghana, a longstanding tradition of marrying women before they become "spoiled" is still present in rural areas. Even though the idea that any woman who has been exposed to men prior to marriage should be seen as disgraceful no longer applies, child marriages are sadly prevalent across certain parts of this country. Thankfully though, organizations such as the Population and Development Caucus have stepped up awareness campaigns against these outdated practices; actively promoting gender equality alongside providing resources for those affected by early nuptials or at risk thereof. 

The Ghanaian government takes a strong stance against child marriage, enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and Children's Act. When those laws are violated by men who seek to marry young girls before they've reached 18 or finished their education, MPs have acted quickly - freeing the victims and prosecuting perpetrators. This is an example of how important it is for governments to act decisively when such issues arise! 

In West Africa, the population has been steadily growing and is expected to reach 570 million people in the next 15 years. The 'demographic dividend' - a benefit of having large proportions of young citizens - however remains elusive for this part of the continent due its unfavorable economic conditions such as high levels of unemployment. With officials looking towards policy reform, there are hopes that fertility rates may be reduced by improving services like healthcare, education and family planning- ultimately creating better opportunities for employment so that these youths can maximize their potential. 

Ghana has been making great strides in reducing fertility rates, with the average number of births per woman dropping from 4.212 - the African continent's general rate - to 3.696 (Ghana Statistical Service 2022). This downward trend is predicted to continue until 2025 when estimates put it at 2.9 births per woman, signifying a noticeable and impressive reduction over 20 years. To further promote reproductive health awareness and inform young people about avoiding unplanned pregnancies or teenage parenthood, Parliamentarians often join forces with informed experts for educational outreach initiatives targeting youth leaders throughout Ghana's communities .

Last November, MPs gathered with the younger generation to discuss matters related to reproductive health. To mark the occasion of a momentous milestone in human history - when Earth hosts its 8 billionth member – Parliament and UNFPA hosted a workshop this December so as better comprehend how such rapid population growth affects Ghana's future. 

After that programme, the MPs pledged to revise their annual advocacy on Ghana’s population growth and concerns to quarterly advocacy through statements on the floor of Parliament. The thrust of MPs’ work in supporting the education and awareness of the youth is in policy advocacy and direct interaction with the youth. It has become normal practice for MPs to lead discussions on family planning and adolescent reproductive health issues at youth sensitization programmes .

A chunk of the programme of the African Parliamentarians Forum, often sponsored by the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) and the UNFPA, centers on issues of family planning, reproductive health, and universal health. This appears to be a direct response to the high fertility rate of sub-Saharan Africa at 4.6 births per woman (World Bank Report, 2021). Knowing the frequent occurrence of teenage pregnancy and unplanned births throughout the continent, it has become a necessary effort to sink home the need for policy advocacy in these areas for all African countries .

In a memorandum, yet to be signed by the Presidents of the Pan African Parliament and the African Parliamentarians Forum on Population and Development, Parliamentarians recognized “our shared interest in, commitment to, and existing cooperation on population and development issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights including family planning and HIV/AIDS…”