Rapid population growth has several economic consequences. It requires heavier investment in education, health, and transport merely to maintain these services at their previous level.
Although population growth is not the only problem dividing rich and poor countries, it is one important variable that has widened the gap in growth in per capita income between developed and developing nations.
Today, birth control is an advocate means to prevent the personal and social pressures that result from rapid population growth.
Rwanda’s population has quadrupled in the last 50 years. And if the fertility rates are not slowed, the population will increase beyond manageable limits. Increase of the population without expansion of resources is a burden.
Rwanda has about nine million people, and Rwandan women have an average of 6.1 children. With Rwanda only 26,000 square hectares wide, the country might experience the problem of the population pressure in the near future.
Lack of knowledge, access problems and side effect fears are among the obstacles that limits the women’s use of hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill and hormone implants.
Some young women are reluctant to use modern contraceptive methods because they perceive them as intended for married women. Some fear that health clinic staff would treat them poorly or not help them.
Some young women seem to have an easier time accessing condoms, but many see them as methods for preventing sexually transmitted infection, rather than as a contraceptive, and associate them with disease and promiscuity.
Many women rely on traditional birth control methods such as charms and herbs. A good percentage of women in our developing countries who consider abortion to be an option in the case of unintended pregnancy, a methodology that is more dangerous than using birth control pills.
Lack of knowledge and access may be the easiest problems to address, efforts must also be applied to the whole Rwandese community to help address negative perceptions of contraceptive use and to encourage older women as well as younger women to consider using modern methods of birth control.
Most of these interventions also need to be youth friendly in that they should help young women build the life skills they need to take control of their reproductive health.
Worth mentioning is that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.
Control of over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. It is linked to the women’s health and social status, as well as the powerful social structures of religion, state control and private profits that people can make.
It is from this perspective that poor families need to understand in order to take a step towards control of their reproductive potential. Women know that childbearing is a social, not a purely personal phenomenon.
We have to understand clearly that increase of the population trends can easily exert considerable pressure on resources with in a period of time.
For Rwanda case, Vision 2020 seeks to transform Rwanda into a middle income country by the year 2020, but the population increase is exerting pressure on socio and economic progress such as lowering living standards and increasing service demand.
We cannot forget to mention that in the past, social and cultural norms of our country used to prevent women from accessing reproductive healthcare and thus severely limiting their reproductive choices.
Traditional norms surrounding the behaviour of women such as gender inequality, limited socioeconomic standing, low literacy rates, early marriage during adolescence, and high fertility limit women’s ability to act in their own interest and compromise access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services.
Previously and in many countries, men control decisions regarding sexual relations, contraception, and HIV prevention. However, the reproductive health needs of men may not necessarily correspond with the needs of women.
Lack of gender sensitive reproductive health policies adversely affects access to information and services for women. Policy actions such as legislation, enforcement provisions, institutional arrangements, and dedicated resources can strengthen women’s rights, limit traditional harmful practices, improve women’s opportunities to stay in school and participate in the workforce.
It also improve access to high quality reproductive healthcare and family planning services. Today the government of Rwanda has set up policies that include the development and enforcement of gender positive policies governing minimum age at marriage, legal age of consent, marital property, and physical integrity.
Improvements in reproductive health have consequences at the individual, family, and household levels. Reproductive health increases the human capital of women who directly contribute to socioeconomic development.
Indirectly, reproductive health increases the human capital of children by keeping their mothers alive. Women with access to family planning information and methods and to other social services such as education and healthcare can control their reproductive outcomes and typically give birth to fewer children.
Fewer births in turn slow population growth, which relieves some pressure on natural resources and overstretched public services.
Safe, effective, and affordable reproductive healthcare provides women with the opportunity to enjoy both non-reproductive and reproductive roles in society, thereby contributing directly to socioeconomic development through increased income.