In most developing countries, the poorest women have the least power to decide whether, when or how to become pregnant and these women have the least access to quality care during pregnancy and childbirth, UNFPA State of World Population Report 2017 has noted.
In a press statement released on Wednesday during the launch of the report, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Natalia Kanem called on United Nations member states to invest in the poorest women to enable them to contribute to the economic development of their countries.
“Inequality is increasingly about the cans and cannots,
“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 cannots,” said Kanem.
According to UNFPA, in Zimbabwe, challenges still remain in bridging the inequality gap due to high maternal mortality especially among girls, limited access to family planning, high HIV prevalence rate and teenage pregnancies.
“Countries that want to tackle economic inequality can start by tackling other inequalities, such as reproductive health and rights, tearing down social, institutional and other obstacles that prevent women from realizing their full potential,” added Kanem.
Meanwhile, speaking to 263Chat, UNFPA Deputy Representative, Mr Yu Yu argued that Zimbabwe has progressed over the years though there are still a few gaps to address.
“There has been reduction in maternal mortality, increase in contraceptive prevalence rate, reduction in HIV prevalence as well as new incidents,
“These are recommendable and Zimbabwe performs well in the social indicators for example it has one the highest contraceptive prevalence rate in the region and antenatal care coverage,
“However there are still challenges especially the adolescent girl, teen fertility level is 1 out of 10 got pregnant before the age of 18, 1 out of 3 got married before 18, these challenges prevent the country from having a youthful population,” said Yu.
The UNFPA report recommended countries to focus on the furthest behind first in line with the United Nations blueprint for achieving sustainable development and inclusive societies by 2030.
“The report points to what needs to be done to ensure we meet development goals and ensure access to sexual reproductive health and rights for women, girls and young people,” added Yu.
Mr Yu added that UNFPA will continue to work with the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure critical investments are made to close the inequality gap.