“For women to reach their full potential and be more economically productive, they must be able to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether, when or how often to have children. Upholding this right will lead to improvements in health and produce an array of benefits: greater investments in schooling, greater productivity, greater labour-force participation and eventually increased income, savings, investment and asset accumulation.” Said Late Dr.BabatundeOsotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director (1949-2017)
BY MAUREEN TWAHIRWA AND JOHN MBARAGA
Sylvie Kanyange is reading a story book to her children when I visit her family in Kimiroko, a suburb in Kigali City. “This book has many stories that aim at improving children’s thinking capacity. When reading to them, I try to link the content in the book with the outside world so that they can understand better,” said Kanyange.
It’s late in the evening and as soon as Kanyange’s husband arrives home, the children rush to welcome him home.
THE SECRET BEHIND A HAPPY FAMILY
“Having a happy family starts with good plan. For you to understand what good a plan is, you need to consider the family as a business. A successful business starts with a good plan and vision. The same principle applies if a couple wants to have a happy family. Before starting a family, partners need to agree on everything starting from properties but mainly the number of children they will have,” explains Karasira, the father of three.
The couple’s eldest child is twelve, the second is seven and the last born is four.
“This is the only secret behind having stable family and success in all angles of life. When you are able to implement Family Planning, it is easy to manage the economy, education and welfare of your family” he explained.
Had she not embraced Family Planning, Kanyange would not have been able to successfully operate her business. Although her husband has a stable job, Kanyange is proud to contribute towards the family’s financial purse through the income from her business.
“Currently I earn a minimum of Rwf 300,000 per month from my fruit and vegetable business located in Kimironko market. This is a huge amount compared to what other women of my generation who did not use Family Planning and have as many children. They are always busy caring for their babies and do not have enough time to think about business and how they can improve it,” she said while urging fellow women to seek to understand Family Planning in order to have stable and happy families.
The family says that all children study in good schools and perform academically well at school as a result of the good health they enjoy at home.
“Family planning has a range of benefits for an individual, family, community and development of a Nation. Rwanda has invested in family planning as key priority for health and the well being of the nation. This year’s WPD theme & global Family Planning Summit in London provides us an opportunity to scale up globally and in Rwanda our investments in Family Planning as contribution to maternal health and our nations continued development.” Dr. Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health.
Today as we celebrate World Population Day, we reflect that Sylvie Kanyange’s experience is unfortunately not a typical one in Rwanda’s society and many other developing nations across the world. Many women still do not have access to information and Family Planning services. As a result, they struggle to raise families with children whom they can barely provide food, education and medical services, among other basic necessities. While opportunities to empower themselves through taking up work or starting their own enterprises may present themselves, they find that they do not have the time as they must look after the children. They therefore find themselves entangled in a cycle of poverty.
This year’s theme is: ‘Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations’ and calls for more investment in Family Planning.
According to the UNFPA, investing in family planning is investing in the health and rights of women and couples worldwide. These investments also yield economic and other gains that can propel development and thus critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying Development Goals.
“Achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 will depend significantly on how well the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people are fulfilled. Catering to their unmet need for family planning is among the most cost-effective investments overall,” said Mark Bryan Schreiner UNFPA Rwanda Country Representative.
The key message as the world celebrates acknowledges that women with choices and greater reproductive health are better empowered to seek and keep better jobs and contribute more to their families, nations and global prosperity. Their families are better-off financially and their children receive better education, helping trigger a cycle of prosperity that carries well into future generations. This produces demographic dividends and enhances global prosperity.
This year’s World Population Day coincides with the ‘London Family Planning Summit’. This is the second meeting of the consortium of donors and stakeholders that make up the FP2020—Family Planning 2020—initiative, which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020.