Selected news stories from the international press relating to Asian (In)Fertilities:
Ulema’s help sought to check baby booma in Pakistan - The News
(3 July 2009)
With the country’s demographic transition taking off, the fertility indicators are showing a positive trend, as the population growth rate, which was over three per cent in the 1980s, has declined to 1.8 per cent. Meanwhile, the total fertility rate has come down to four children per woman, but the contraceptive prevalence rate of 30 per cent remains very low, and if the current population growth rate is not harnessed, the population of Pakistan — the sixth most populous country in the world with currently 165 million souls — will double in the next 39 years, translating an increase to up to 190 million by the year 2020.
These figures were revealed by Federal Minister for Population Welfare Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan while addressing the national seminar on ‘Involvement of Religious Leaders in Population Welfare Programme’, organised here Thursday by the Ministry of Population welfare. She said our religion has a holistic and all encompassing vision that virtually covers every aspect of family life including breastfeeding, birth spacing, inter-spousal relations and conduct of matrimonial life. “The reproductive health rights, female education and gender equality matters have been given more importance in the teachings of Islam,” she said. The minister said the government is fully aware of the fact that national development would remain an illusion without a decline in the population growth rate and so, it must be managed through effective family planning and reproductive health programmes. “Therefore, the government at various levels is making every effort to inform and educate the citizens on the issue of population, as explicit integration of population into the economic and development strategies will both speed up the pace of sustainable development and contribute to the achievements of population objectives,” she said. The minister said the brotherly Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia have involved religious leaders in their population programmes, who are playing an important role in saving the lives of women and children by promoting a holistic approach to family planning and reproductive health at large. “Pakistan can learn from the experiences and successes of brotherly countries for improvement in the quality of life of our citizens,” she said. On the occasion, three groups of Ulema in attendance at the seminar were formulated, who were assigned various topics related to the issue of family planning, who at the end gave various recommendations on each topic. The first group was assigned the topic ‘Ulema’s Role in Advancing the Goal of Family Well Being: Opportunities & Challenges’. Sahibzada Mohammad Fazl-ur Rehman Okarwi while making various recommendations stressed the need for continuous and lasting relationships between the ministry and Ulema in order to effectively collaborate on the various projects of family planning. He called for provincial consultation to be conducted for making the process more participatory and eliciting more views, while a vision/mission/objective statement of Ulema’s role might be well defined in further consultation with Ulema. The second group was assigned with ‘Role of Gender from Islamic Perspective’ where Maulana Mohammad Afzal Haidri stressed the need for equal facilities and opportunities for women. “The government should not be content just after telecasting a few advertisements in the media, but rather detailed discussions and seminars on the issue of family planning must be telecast on a regular basis,” he said.