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PM seeks effective population management for sustainable development

May 16, 2024 4:19 pm
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today stressed the need for effective population management considered to be a key determinant for sustainable development.

“For the vast populations around the globe, it is necessary to transform their demographic dividend by ensuring essential education, healthcare, and other fundamental rights,” she said.

The premier made the remarks while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day event titled “ICPD30 Global Dialogue on Demographic Diversity and Sustainable Development” at Intercontinental Hotel here.

Bangladesh, Bulgaria and Japan, together with UNFPA, are hosting the event that creates a platform to discuss the challenges and explore the opportunities of the world’s shifting demographics.

The prime minister said transforming demographic dividend will enable to create a prosperous global system.

“To achieve this goal, development partners and international financial institutions need to be more sincere and internally committed to ensuring the quantity and accessibility of international arrangements for general healthcare, particularly in the field of maternal and child healthcare services,” she said.

The premier said that the global dialogue held in Dhaka will provide the necessary recommendations for the Summit of the Future to be held in September, 2024 in the United Nations.

“The international community at the Summit of the Future will reaffirm their strong political commitment to addressing population and development issues,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has decided to update Population Policy-2012 aiming to transform the population into human resources through skill development.

“Very recently we have decided to update the Population Policy-2012. In the new policy, the Demographic Dividend which will continue from 2041 to 2061 is being emphasised to transform the population into human resource through skill development and advancement, and emphasising vocational education,” she said.

As a result of various initiatives taken by the government, the average life expectancy of the people in the country has increased to 72.3 years in 2023, she said.

“Currently, 62 percent of our total population is productive,” she added.

The premier also mentioned that at present 9.29 percent of the total population in the country is above 60 years old.

“We have implemented various programs to ensure the health services and social security of the elderly. In 2023, we have arranged elderly allowances for over 5.8 million senior citizens,” she said.

She also spoke about the forcibly displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and the Palestinians suffering from Israeli aggression and occupation.

“A large number of women and children in Palestine are currently deprived of necessary medical and health services. They are fighting for survival every day,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina called for more effective role from United Nations and other international organisations to ensure essential health services for all in Palestine where people are fighting for survival every day against the Israeli aggression and occupation.

“I hope that the United Nations and other international organisations will take a more effective role in ensuring essential health services for all, especially women and children, there,” she said.

She added that given the detrimental impact of climate change on public health and other health risks, it is essential to ensure international cooperation to protect the health and well-being of people, particularly mothers, children, and the elderly, from health risks.

“At the same time, I consider it crucial to pay attention to the distressed and marginalised populations due to conflicts and political reasons,” she continued.

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem, Minister of Social and Family Development of the Maldives Aishath Shiham, Kiribati’s Minister for Women, Youth, Sports and Social Affairs Martin Moretti, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Yasushi and State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Rokeya Sultana, among others, spoke at the programme.

Representative from the Government of Bulgaria also joined the opening ceremony.

Sheikh Hasina said no alternative is left to integrate social movements against child marriage, dowry, and violence against women.

“We must recognise our girls not just as victims, but as the driving force behind change,” she said.

“To ensure health services for adolescents, we have established adolescent-friendly health service corners in 1,253 union-level service,” she added.

The prime minister mentioned that an initiative has been taken to distribute free sanitary napkins to nearly 5 million adolescent girls studying in grade six to twelve.

Apart from these, she said that the government has launched the “School Meal” program nationwide to meet the nutritional needs of school-going students.

Since 2010, the government has implemented the world’s largest free textbook distribution programme at the secondary level, distributing approximately 464 million books until 2024, she said.

“In addition, we have introduced a stipend program to promote girls’ education from primary to higher secondary level. Girls’ education has been made charge-free up to twelfth grade,” she continued.

Sheikh Hasina went on saying that her government has allocated 30 percent of national budget for the social and economic empowerment of women.

“In line with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we are implementing a national policy and plan of action for women’s development,” she said.

She also said currently, 42.6 percent of the total workforce comprises women.

“And we aim to increase it to 50 percent by 2030. We have also set targets to ensure 25 percent female participation in the ICT sector by 2026 and 50 percent by 2041,” she added.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report-2023 by the World Economic Forum, the premier said Bangladesh ranks seventh among 146 countries in terms of political empowerment, and first in the region.

“In the recent twelfth parliamentary election, female participation increased by 38.24 percent compared to the previous general elections,” she said.

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