Global population is set to grow by 2.2 billion between now and 2050, a United Nations report has said.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2018 Report released Wednesday, more than half of that growth – 1.3 billion – is likely to be in sub-Saharan Africa.
The report subtitled “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition” noted that women rights in the region are hampered by limited access to healthcare and education, along with “entrenched gender discrimination”.
Director of UNFPA in Geneva, Monica Ferro, said the trend globally is towards smaller families, indicating that more people are making choices about exactly how many children they want, or can afford to raise.
She said despite the gradual transition to lower fertility rates, which began in Europe in the late 19th Century, no country can claim that all its citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times.
Ms Ferro noted that about 250 million in the developing world want to control their fertility but lack access to modern contraceptive methods.
The report also notes fertility rates are significantly lower in African cities than in rural areas.
It cites Ethiopia, where urban women have 2.1 children on average, compared to five children per woman in the rest of the country.
“Every year, 300,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth because they have no choices in maternal health care.
“Every day, thousands of girls are forced into child and early marriage and are victims of female genital mutilation. They have no choices,” Ms Ferro said.
The report also indicated there are 43 countries where women have more than four or more children and 38 of these are in Africa.
If UNFPA’s prediction comes true, Africa’s share of world population will grow from 17 per cent in 2017 to 26 per cent in 2050.
The report encourages methods to delay or prevent pregnancies, according to a woman’s choice and interests.
“Choice can change the world. It can rapidly improve the well-being of women and girls, transform families, and accelerate global development,”Natalia Kanem, UNPFA executive director wrote in the report.
The report stresses maternal healthcare, better sex education, access to contraceptives and a change in female stereotypes as ways to reduce birth rates.
It however acknowledged that some developing countries do not have the resources or political security to improve reproductive rights.
The UNFPA official urged all countries to implement a range of policies and programmes that would increase the “reproductive choices” of their populations.