State of World Population 2021 report
About the Report
- The State of World Population is an annual report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
- Each edition covers and analyses developments and trends in world population and demographics, as well as shedding a light on specific regions, countries and population groups and the unique challenges they face.
Why in News?
- UNFPA has released its flagship State of World Population 2021 report titled ‘My Body is My Own’.
- This is the first time a United Nations report has focused on bodily autonomy, defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
Highlights of the Report
- Nearly half the women from 57 developing countries do not have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies, including using contraception, seeking healthcare or even on their sexuality.
- The report shows that in countries where data is available, only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception and the ability to say yes or no to sex.
- It also highlights that only 75% of countries legally ensure full and equal access to contraception.
- Some examples of violation of bodily autonomy include, child marriage, female genital mutilation, a lack of contraceptive choices leading to unplanned pregnancy, unwanted sex exchanged for a home and food or when people with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities cannot walk down a street without fearing assault or humiliation.
- Under its ambit also fall people with disabilities stripped of their rights to self-determination, to be free from violence and to enjoy a safe and satisfying sexual life.
- Women’s access to bodily autonomy is measured in the report through their power to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care, contraceptive use and sexual relations and the extent to which the laws of the countries support or interfere with a woman’s right to make these decisions.
- The report noted that lack of bodily autonomy may have worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, placing record numbers of women and girls at risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early marriage.
- A woman’s power to control her own body is linked to how much control she has in other spheres of her life, with higher autonomy associated with advances in health and education, income and safety.
- Amongst its findings, the report documented several ways through which bodily autonomy of not only women and girls, but also men and boys, is violated, with factors such as disability worsening the situation.
- For instance, girls and boys with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be subjected to sexual violence, with girls at the greatest risk.
Scenario in India
- In India, according to NFHS-4 (2015-2016), only about 12% of currently married women (15-49 years of age) independently make decisions about their own healthcare, while 63% decide in consultation with their spouse. For a quarter of women (23%), it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.
- Only 8% of currently married women (15-49 years) take decisions on the use of contraception independently, while 83% decide jointly with their spouse. Information provided to women about use of contraception is also limited — only 47% women using a contraceptive were informed about the side effects of the method, and 54% women were provided information about other contraceptives.
‘Men must become allies’
- The report highlighted that addressing the appalling situation requires much more than a disconnected series of projects or services, stressing that real, sustained progress largely depends on uprooting gender inequality and all forms of discrimination, and transforming the social and economic structures that maintain them.
- In this, men must become allies. Many more must commit to stepping away from patterns of privilege and dominance that profoundly undercut bodily autonomy, and move towards ways of living that are more fair and harmonious, benefiting us all.
- UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency.
- Its mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
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