Population dynamics should be integrated into the post-2015 agenda by ensuring that human rights and human security, and equality and equity are the guiding principles and ultimate goals of all population and development policies.
Political will and financial resources should be invested in creating and enhancing laws, enforcement measures, policies, programs and accountability mechanisms to promote the fulfillment of human rights obligations, especially as regards the empowerment of women and girls and gender equality, the rights and empowerment of adolescents and youth, and the sexual and reproductive rights of all individuals across the life-cycle—with particular attention to women and adolescent girls living in poverty or in situations of violence—without any form of discrimination, coercion or violence based on sex, age, ethnic, racial, marital, migrant, HIV, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other status.
Such an approach also implies conformity with international human rights standards and the implementation of and follow-up on the recommendations of international human rights bodies (such as CEDAW, CRC, and others). These fundamental human rights and gender equality issues lie at the core of how people’s real lives relate to and also influence macro-level population dynamics and trends.
Especially strategic areas that can enable favourable population and development dynamics for improved quality of life, poverty eradication and sustainable development include:
- Ensuring equal rights for women across the spectrum of social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights;
- Fulfilling the right of all girls and boys to quality education, with particular attention to getting girls through secondary school (including special protections for the equal rights of pregnant or married girls and young mothers);
- Ensuring comprehensive sexuality education for all young people that is rights-based, gender-responsive and equips young people with skills to make informed choices for their lives, sexuality, health and relationships;
- Providing explicit legislative and policy provisions to protect everyone’s rights to autonomous and informed decision-making and enjoyment of freedoms regarding their sexual and reproductive lives and health;
- Accelerating universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, removing legal, policy, administrative, economic and physical barriers and affirming rights to equal access, especially for women and adolescent girls and young people generally (e.g. addressing issues of denial of services, spousal and parental consent requirements, prohibitions on particular contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception, as well as ensuring affordability);
- Ensuring that health system capacities are strengthened, including with adequate resources, to be equipped for contributing to the full realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights;.
- Ending violence against women and girls, through both sustained prevention efforts and universal access to services and supports for all those who have been subjected to gender-based violence;
- Ensuring women and youth have equal opportunities and legal rights for economic empowerment, decent work, equal pay, access to productive assets, and rights to land, property, inheritance, banking and financial services, and training;
- Empowering people with the skills, knowledge and enabling environment necessary– through public outreach and education and community mobilization – to exercise their human and legal rights.
World population trends present significant challenges, but systematically utilizing analysis of population data and projections can inform and shape sound planning and policies to seize opportunities for meeting them–including to help defeat poverty; improve planning to better address the increasing demands on public services and social safety nets by growing younger and older populations; improve rights-based management of international and internal rural-urban migration, and reduce the marginalization of migrants by ensuring their fundamental rights are protected–regardless of their status; reap the ‘demographic dividend’; and benefiting from economies of scale in the provision of public services as urbanization continues to expand. But unless the integration of population dynamics in development planning is accompanied by political will and resources to advance human rights, equality and equity, such exercises can miss out on their potential benefits, and also turn harmful and counterproductive—especially when sexual and reproductive rights are violated. Population dynamics are about people, and should be guided by, and outcomes measured by, the extent to which quality of life, empowerment and human and environmental rights are advanced. To ensure that the integration of population dynamics is carried out from a human rights-based and gender-responsive approach, strong accountability systems at local, national, and international levels should be established that:
- Are transparent, effective, and participatory, involving the meaningful participation of civil society, including of marginalized groups often ignored when priorities and budgets are determined – such as women, adolescents and youth, communities living in poverty and otherwise excluded and discriminated against – in all stages of decisionmaking, including in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of programmes and policies.
- Tackle poverty and other inequities, by capturing outcomes for the lowest income quintiles and the most marginalized groups—including in terms of the respect and exercise of their human rights, equality before the law and equitable access, and specifically, their sexual and reproductive rights and universal access to related services.
- Utilizes qualitative data and analysis alongside quantitative data—including to gather information on key rights and equity issues, and excluded groups, that may have been neglected in the past – drawing on diverse sources of information and the real-lived experiences of individuals and communities.