World Population Day 2005: Observances Around the World

20 July 2005
Author: UNFPA

A number of events, held by UNFPA and its partners on World Population Day, 11 July, raised awareness of population and development issues worldwide. These activities revolved around gender equality – this year’s theme – and affirmed the fact that this basic human right benefits everyone – men, women, boys and girls alike.

In Afghanistan, The Ministry of Women’s Affairs celebrated World Population Day with a pubic event focusing on the various aspects of inequality facing women and girls—particularly early marriage. The UNFPA-supported ceremony included a poster exhibition on the theme of equality. The 50 posters featured were the winners of a competition that was jointly organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts of Kabul University and UNFPA. The event concluded with a screening of a 30-minute UNFPA-supported film called AWLAAD, meaning ‘Children’. Afghanistan National TV wrote and produced the film especially to mark the day.

In Azerbaijan, UNFPA and its national partners held a concert and a party to generate greater understanding of the significance of the Days’ theme among youth and adolescents. In addition to young people, participants included the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population, other senior government officials, and representatives of civil society and UN agencies. The event underscored the rights and opportunities of the youth, particularly young girls. A song, composed by UNFPA specifically for the Day and its social theme, was presented during the event.

In Bangladesh, World Population Day celebrations included a rally that paraded through Dhaka despite the heavy monsoon showers. Led by the Secretary of Health and Family Welfare and UNFPA Representative, the rally included members of NGOs, scouts, girl guides, members of the Village Defense Party and government officials. Another rally by students and teachers of the University of Dhaka featured a discussion session on the theme of the day.

In Cambodia, World Population Day celebrations included performances at a public park in the capital Phnom Penh, which featured a series of art performances ranging from traditional dance, folk dance, pop songs, and a comedy sketch. The event, which drew a vast crowd of young people, included messages on key themes of the occasion, emphasizing the importance of equal opportunities for all—particularly for women and girls. Other events included a special forum at the Royal School of Administration, presided over by the Deputy Prime Minister.

In China, the Government launched a new initiative – backed by four different ministries –that emphasizes the need to empower women in order to stem the transmission of HIV. The launching ceremony featured testimonials from a number of HIV-infected people who highlighted the need to reduce stigma and to enable people living with HIV and AIDS to enjoy active, constructive lives.

UNFPA commemorated World Population Day in Ecuador with a well-attended ceremony that included a statement by the First Lady on the theme of equality. A panel discussion focused on equality and diversity, and included debate on topics such as gender inequality, ethnicity, culture and ageing.

UNFPA and the National Council for Women in Cairo, Egypt, observed the Day with a ceremony under the auspices of the First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak. The event featured the Minister of Health and Population, the Secretary-General of the National Council for Women, and UNFPA Representative. Speakers focused on achievements in removing barriers to Egyptian women’s equal participation in cultural, economic and political life, and highlighted the country’s main population challenges.

In Eritrea, celebrations included a debate on equality and featured select readings from a series of winning essays exploring key themes relating to the Day. Events also included a short drama accompanied by a music written, directed and performed by the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students. The play, about two families with opposing views on the role of women and girls, showed how the family that believed in equality became successful, and was then able to influence the other to follow suit.

World Population Day in Ethiopia was marked with a symposium attended by high government officials, representatives of United Nations agencies, civil society and the private sector. The event focused on the need to promote the rights of women and highlighted the benefits of empowering women and girls. Secondary school children read poems on the harsh and tragic lives of girls and women in Ethiopia, and sang a special song about family planning, gender and poverty messages.

Fiji observed World Population Day with a number of advocacy initiatives, including radio talk back shows, panel discussions, school awareness activities, and a one-week media campaign. UNFPA also released a new publication, Before it’s Too Late, which documents experiences of young people in the Pacific and voices their concerns regarding reproductive health issues.

UNFPA observed the Day in Georgia with the opening of a Georgian Women Artists Exhibition, entitled "Equality Empowers." Representatives of the government, diplomatic missions, NGOs, and Georgian artists and journalists attended the event. The show, extensively covered by national television channels and reviewed in the local press, highlighted the status of women and gender equity in Georgia from different perspectives.

In Haiti, World Population Day celebrations included a countrywide talent competition for youth with the theme "Stop Violence Against Women." Winners of the three categories—essay, song, and dance—displayed their talents to a crowd of more than 2000 people at the awards ceremony, which was part of a cultural festival celebrating the day organized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, UNFPA, and partners.

In India, where, as a result of prenatal sex selection, the declining child sex ratio is a matter of grave concern, UNFPA collaborated with partners to hold forums for various sectors of society aimed at creating awareness about the concerning issue. Among the events was a workshop for radio jockeys and FM station programme managers in New Delhi that helped to sensitize journalists about sex selection by integrating appropriate messages into radio programmes.

Representatives of the government, NGOs, academic institutions, parliament, the United Nations and the diplomatic corps in the Islamic Republic of Iran marked the Day during a celebration at Tehran University. The event, which featured statements by a number of officials, including the Minister of Health, the Head of the Centre for Women Participation, and UNFPA Representative, was widely covered in the Iranian media.

Jordan’s National Television produced and broadcast three segments highlighting gender concerns, reproductive rights, economic opportunities and political participation. UNFPA also marked World Population Day by holding a workshop in collaboration with the Higher Population Council to review achievements and challenges inherent in mainstreaming gender into Millennium Development Goal reporting.

In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, youth groups in the southern city of Pakse celebrated the Day by performing a series of lively comic dramas organized in collaboration with the Committee for Planning Cooperation and the Governor of Champassak Province. The performances addressed issues of gender equality and safe sex. A UNFPA representative also paid a visit to Champassak hospital to present gifts and flowers to the mothers of five babies—three girls and two boys—born on World Population Day.

UNFPA and its local partners in Lebanon marked World Population Day with two roundtables attended by government officials, NGOs and youth representatives. The first focused on the status, progress, and challenges related to women equity and empowerment in the country, particularly in the economic, political, social, and legislative fields. The second assessed the perceptions and attitudes of young people regarding gender equity and women’s empowerment.

In Mauritania, the Day’s celebrations included a ceremony chaired by the Minister of Economic Affaires and Development and the Secretary of State for Women’s Affairs. The event, attended by more than 100 guests, showed two films about HIV/AIDS and youth and the consequences of obstetric fistula. It also featured the release of the second addition of comic series “Amy,” which focuses on adolescent problems. The Day was also celebrated in other parts of the country.

In Mongolia, UNFPA and its partners marked the Day with a series of events that included a TV debate on the equality, focusing on gender relations in education, family violence and politics, and the release of a a baseline study of the current state of family relations in the country. UNFPA produced a booklet on gender equality that was distributed during a press conference marking the Day, and a drawing and essay contest on human rights, children’s rights and equality was held at an international children’s camp.

A variety of activities marked World Population Day in Namibia, including a march in Windhoek by primary and high school students, women’s groups, government officials, out-of-school youth, and UNFPA staff members. The march ended at the UN Plaza, where a public ceremony featured a statement by the First Lady, Penexupifo Pohamba.

World Population Day was observed in Nicaragua with a workshop, organized at the Condega Military Base outside Managua, for army officers on how to deal with domestic violence. The occasion was also marked with a symposium on "Equality and Public Policies” that was held by professors and researchers from various national universities.

Observances of the Day in the Occupied Palestinian Territory included a national seminar on reproductive health and development, poverty reduction and girls’ education. The seminar was addressed by the Minister of Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the Jerusalem-based NGO MIFTAH, and the Director of the Women’s Studies Institute at Birzeit University. More than 100 representatives of different governmental and non- governmental institutions attended the event.

In addition to a number of radio and television segments on the theme of the day, World Population Day in Sudan was observed with a workshop on women’s empowerment and human rights. The Sudanese National Population Council is also organizing weeklong events in Khartoum to emphasize the importance of gender equality.

In Syria, the Pioneering Oriental Orchestra, the only all-female group of musicians in the country, marked the occasion with a performance at the Opera House. Prior to the performance, organizers screened a short film, “Story of Success,” which depicts how each performer managed, despite opposition and discrimination, to realize their respective dreams of becoming a performer. More than 800 people, including senior government officials and media representatives, NGOs, diplomatic missions, and UN agencies, attended. A number of TV Spots focusing on gender-based violence were also broadcast on Syrian TV.

In Thailand, World Population Day celebrations featured the release of a UNFPA report entitled Reproductive Health of Women in Thailand: Progress and Challenges Towards Attainment of International Development Goals. The report says that, owing to policies recognizing the links between health and poverty alleviation, women in Thailand enjoy better reproductive health than they had10 years ago; maternal mortality has fallen sharply and fertility has continued to decline.

Tunisia celebrated the Day with a workshop on "Equity, the Employment of Graduating Youth and the Role of the University," organized jointly by UNFPA and the Jendouba University in the north-west of the country. The workshop involved 40 participants from a variety of universities, governmental institutions and NGOs. The Tunisian Scout Organization also marked the Day by distributing posters on the theme of equality to all of its regional committees.

Compiled by: Omar Gharzeddine

Population : 17.9 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 95%
Girls 1.01%

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