World Population Day - Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations

Photo: UNFPA/Besfort Kryeziu

Belgrade, 11 July 2017 - Ever since 1989, the UN has celebrated World Population Day on July 11 in the hope of raising awareness on the urgency and importance of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development. This year the topic is Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations.

Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. It is also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty. Investments in making family planning available also yields economic and other gains that can propel development forward.

Around the world, some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities. Most of these women with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in 69 of the poorest countries on earth. 

However, when it comes to family planning situation in our region, data shows that the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia have some of the world’s lowest modern contraceptive usage rates. According to Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey  (MICS 5), modern  contraception in Serbia is used by less than one-fifth of women in the general population who are married or in union (18.4%), while a traditional methods, primarily withdrawal, is used nearly twice more (40 %). The situation is even worse in marginalized categories of women, as only 7.2% of Roma women living in Roma settlements in Serbia are using modern contraception, while a traditional methods are used by 54 % of respondents.

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 forward and are thus critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2017 World Population Day, 11 July, coincides with the Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the FP2020–Family Planning 2020–initiative, which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020

“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,” late Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director (1949-2017).

Family planning is included in Sustainable Development Goal targets (such as target 3.7, to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health services), and achieving many of the Goals depends in part on the ability of women to exercise their reproductive rights. And universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, is key to success. Development Partnership Framework (DPF) for Serbia 2016-2020 developed in close cooperation and through a partnership between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the United Nations Country Team in Serbia, also envisages efforts to improve counselling services about family planning and the availability of reproductive health services and commodities in the country.

“If we focus on youth, research shows us that many young people in Serbia have no basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of reproduction, and that their knowledge of contraception and sexually transmitted infections is scarce and burdened with prejudices. Thus, they prefer to use coitus interruptus method instead of modern family planning methods,” says Dr Doina Bologa, UNFPA Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Country Director for Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Director for Kosovo[1] .

“Improving the situation in the sphere of family planning is possible and it requires commitment from all. National Programme for Sexual and Reproductive Health which aims to coordinate actions of all stakeholders for advancing reproductive health and rights of the population of Serbia is an important step towards achieving this goal, and UNFPA is happy to support these efforts made by the Ministry of Health and Government of the Republic of Serbia,“ adds Bologa.


About World Population Day

In 1989, the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recommended that 11 July be observed as World Population Day. An outgrowth of the Day of Five Billion, marked on 11 July 1987, the Day since then seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, particularly in the context of overall development.




Jovana Ubiparip, UFNPA Programme Assistant,

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[1] All references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the UNSCR 1244 (1999).