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"There are no sensitive issues in reproductive health, but there are insensitive approaches to reproductive health issues."
Mona Khalifa, Assistant Representative

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12 January 2017
Statement on Executive Order No. 12



The Executive Order No. 12 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte supporting the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law is a major push for the government’s family planning program, which has been hindered by various challenges to the implementation of the landmark law.

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, remains fully committed to supporting the government and civil society partners on this effort. UNFPA has been working with local governments in ensuring that access to quality reproductive health services, including family planning, will be available especially for the poorest and disadvantaged communities who need these services most.

“The full and immediate implementation of the RPRH Law is critically important for the government to deliver on its family planning program, which has been identified by President Duterte as one of his priorities when he assumed office,” said Klaus Beck, UNFPA Country Representative.

The EO contributes to the Philippines’ commitment to fulfilling the 2030 sustainable development agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whose aim is ultimately to leave no one behind, especially the most vulnerable.

“The RPRH Law is a fundamental component to a comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation and human development in the Philippines, and is critical to realizing reproductive rights, including the right to choose freely and responsible if and when to have children, reducing maternal mortality and the realization of the development goals on health, gender and poverty,” Mr. Beck added.

The President’s order will lend new momentum to the implementation of the RPRH Law as it demonstrates the highest level of support to the measure. The EO also clearly defines the role of various government units in enforcing the law and provides clear instructions on the funding needed to implement it, as well as the accountability mechanism to ensure that the RPRH Law and the EO are implemented. All of this will boost RPRH law implementation.

Concerns remain however with one key challenge to the full implementation of the law being the Philippine Supreme Court's temporary restraining order related to the registration and certification of contraceptives. The order has been in effect for more than a year now and UNFPA hopes that it can be lifted as soon as possible in order to avoid adverse impact on the supply of contraceptives in the country.

UNFPA also hopes that the EO will form part of a comprehensive and holistic effort by the government and people of the Philippines toward the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development based on the protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all the people of the Philippines.

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The State of World Population 2016

 

UNFPA’s State of World Population 2016 report shows that empowering today’s 10-year-old girls could yield huge demographic and economic dividends and build better societies.

 

Manila, 20 October 2016 — HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and child labour are undermining girls’ health, rights and opportunities and threaten the world’s new and ambitious development agenda, warns UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in The State of World Population 2016, released today.

Practices that harm girls and violate their human rights--starting at age 10--prevent them from realizing their full potential as adults and from contributing to the economic and social progress of their communities and nations. Without their contribution, the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying 17 Sustainable Development Goals may never be achieved.

“Impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and fulfilling adulthood is a violation of her rights,” says Klaus Beck UNFPA Representative in the Philippines. “But it also takes a toll on her community and nation. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealized, we all lose.”

Girls who reach adulthood with an education and their health and rights intact could triple their lifetime incomes, thereby fueling progress for generations and entire nations, the report states.

“By ensuring the over 1 million 10 year-old girls in the Philippines get the tools, know-how and opportunities they need to meet their potential, they could each earn over 45 per cent more over the next 15 years,” notes UNFPA’s Beck.

Ten is a pivotal age for girls everywhere, as puberty approaches. In some parts of the world, a girl at this age enjoys limitless possibilities and begins making choices on her education and later life. But elsewhere, girls are seen as commodities to be bought, sold or traded, the UNFPA report shows. She may be forced to marry, pulled out of school and forced to bear children and begin a life of servitude.

“In the Philippines, teenage pregnancy limits far too many girls’ hopes, dreams and aspirations. It also costs the country around P33 billion each year in foregone earnings,” says UNFPA’s Beck.

“By ensuring girls right to education, including age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services and advice, we could improve the lives of hundreds of thousands, reap long term gains, and help ensure the success of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The new development agenda, endorsed by world leaders in 2015, is global blueprint peace, prosperity and a sustainable future to 2030, leaving no one behind. Removing the barriers that hold 10-year-old girls back today will help make sure the agenda is a success, the report argues.

The State of World Population report notes that of the 125 million 10-year-olds today, 60 million are girls who are systematically disadvantaged at the global level as they move through adolescence into adulthood. Girls are less likely than boys to complete formal schooling at the secondary and university levels, are more likely to be in poorer physical and mental health, and will find it harder to get paid jobs.

The challenge now, the UNFPA reports argues, is to scale up these interventions to reach more girls, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, by age 10.

“How we invest in and support 10-year-old girls today will determine what our world will look like in 2030,” notes UNFPA’s Klaus Beck. “With support from family, community and nation, and the full realization of her rights, a 10-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future we all want.”

Key global statistics
  • Nine out of 10 10-year-old girls live in developing countries, and one in five lives in a least developed country: one in five is in India, and one in eight in China.
  • Each year of education delivers an additional 11.7 per cent uplift in wages in later life for girls (compared with 9.6 per cent for men). Yet, 16 million girls between 6 and 11 will never start school. That’s twice the number of boys.
  • If all the 10-year-old girls who drop out of school or do not attend school in developing countries completed secondary education, they would trigger a $21 billion annual dividend.
  • More than half of the world’s 65 million 10-year-old girls live in the 48 countries with the worst gender inequality.
  • Ten per cent of 5-to-14 year-old girls do more than 28 hours of household chores per week, twice that of boys. Three in four girl labourers are unpaid.
  • Every day, an estimated 47,700 girls are married before 18. 


Key national statistics

  • There are over 1 million 10-year old Filipino girls. If their rights and needs are met, they could earn almost 45% more over the next 15 years.
  • Investing in and empowering the over 1 million Filipino 10 year-old girls today and over the next 15 years could boost GDP by almost 13% of today’s GDP.
  • By age 19, 4 in 10 girls in the Philippines are – or will soon be – mothers.
  • P33 billion in earnings are foregone each year through teenage pregnancy. That’s over 1% of GDP (2012)

 
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. 

For more information, please contact: Matthew Taylor:  Tel: +63 906 474 9730; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Respect, equality and cultural sensitivity:

Boosting maternal health among Mindanao’s indigenous communities


Remarks by UNFPA Philippines Representative Klaus Beck at the closure of the project: ‘addressing maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition needs of indigenous people and indigenous cultural communities and other disadvantaged communities in Mindanao (IPMNCHN).

Montevista, 11 October 2016 
 

Good morning.

 

Today marks a huge milestone for us all, as we close a superb project that has brought quality maternal care to thousands more women and girls, empowered a range of indigenous communities, and helped save hundreds of newborn and mother lives.

Under the leadership of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Health, and with generous support from the European Union, we’ve reached over 117,000 people with advice on family planning and pregnancy, including 8000 pregnant and lactating women across Mindanao.

And since January 2013, 81 health fairs across 10 indigenous areas have reached over 7,200 women with prenatal care, family planning and reproductive health services.

We’ve helped to train doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers on family planning, emergency obstetrics, gender and reproductive health.

We’ve equipped two community health and birthing stations with fully trained staff, and provided 12 sets of birthing facility equipment to the project sites.

And we’ve run communications campaigns to encourage people to use the new services, to improve their own health and to tackle teenage pregnancy in indigenous and disadvantaged communities. 

The list goes on.

But behind every single statistic - are thousands of real people’s lives that have been made better through your work.

People like Gillian, a 25 year old mother of one from the Dibabawon Indigenous group living in Barangay Camansi. 

After having her first child, Gillian, in consultation with the new community care workers, used family planning to space her births better. 

She wanted to earn more money to add to her husband’s income as a labourer before having another child.

Her son recently started school, and she wants him to be able to keep going with his education, and go all the way to university - if that’s what he wants.

Gillian is now 5 months pregnant with her second child.

Thanks to a new birthing facility and a community health programme nearby, she won’t be forced to make a long journey to ensure a safe birth this time around. 

And with quality services nearby, she is far less likely to die through childbirth.

With family planning options and advice now available, she can stick to her family’s financial plan to save enough cash to ensure her children get the opportunities that she never had. 

Gillian’s story is just one of thousands. Many more indigenous women and girls are now more healthy and productive, and better able to plan their way out of poverty, thanks to your work. 

And looking forward to the next generation, we could soon have a huge, skilled set of graduates to propel themselves, their families and their communities towards a more prosperous and equitable future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

In the past, Indigenous groups like Gillian’s have often been a low priority for support. Many also faced discrimination and barriers to accessing key services like health and education. 

By working with indigenous leaders, supporting local businesses and helping almost 11,500 indigenous people get birth certificates, this project has helped to change that. 

With birth certificates, people can now access healthcare, the national insurance system and schools. They can get bank accounts to plan their finances. And whilst safeguarding and celebrating your traditional cultures, you can benefit from the some of the best of non-traditional life as well.

In this sense, the project has truly helped to advance the global vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – that of leaving no-one behind. 

Looking forward, it will be up to the Indigenous Peoples’ Leaders, local LGU partners, the National Commission on Indigenous People and the Department of Health to drive forward the success we’ve seen under the project. 

I sincerely hope that the structures, training methodologies and communications activities are institutionalized into the local and regional planning systems. 

Similarly, the project has, and should continue to generate a wealth of useful data for sound policymaking in tackling maternal deaths, service provision and poverty reduction. 

I personally, and UNFPA as a whole, is proud, honoured and delighted to have been part of this life-changing project. 

And I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the European Union, the National Commission on Indigenous People and the Department of Health for their confidence in allowing us to be part of this.

As always, UNFPA is on hand to assist and advise as best we can in future. 

If there is one clear message from our shared work with and for indigenous communities, it is this:

Safer births and family planning build stronger, empowered communities. And ultimately a more prosperous and equitable nation. 

Thank you very much ug Maayong Hapon sa atoang tanan.

 

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UNFPA mourns the sudden passing of Senator Miriam Defensor, a passionate and relentless advocate for reproductive health and rights. We wish to convey our deepest sympathy to her loved ones at this difficult time. 

Senator Santiago led an extraordinary battle against corruption, political awareness and engaged citizenship. She consistently supported UNFPA with her leadership in the passage of the Responsible Parenthood - Reproductive Health (RPRH) Bill of 2012. With her death, UNFPA has lost an ally who displayed an unwavering determination in securing legislative support for our cause. Under the late Senator’s inspired leadership, the RPRH law was passed in the Congress after over 14 years of hard work. Her steadfast partnership with UNFPA remains an inspirational example of collaboration between the UN and the Government of Philippines. The partnership will always be celebrated as a powerful achievement to bring about better reproductive health care across the country.

The best way to honour her formidable achievements is to continue to support the causes she passionately argued for, to live by her principles and remain vigilant of our rights and freedoms. 

 
**********
Photo By Danremo08 (Own work [1]) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Department of Health

2016 Breastfeeding and Family Planning Forum

The Pearl Manila Hotel

29 September 2016

 

Theme:

Breastfeeding and Family Planning: 

Keys to Sustainable Development



Honorable NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia

Honorable DOH Under Secretary Gerry Bayugo, Director Enrique Tayag

Colleagues from the United Nations: Gundo Weiler (WHO), Lotta Sylwander (UNICEF), Robert Rosadia (World Bank)

RPRH NIT Chairperson Dr. Esperanza Cabral 

Colleagues from the Civil Society: ARUGAAN, LIKHAAN 

Partners from DOH Regional Offices, Local Government Units and the Media

Friends—

Good morning!

First, I wish to congratulate the Department of Health on the occasion of its 2016 Breastfeeding and Family Planning Forum, and for bringing us all together to drive forward our vision of universal health care and of maternal and child health.

Last week, our team met Gillian in Mindanao. Gillian is a 25 year old mother of one from the Dibabawon Indigenous group.  She is five months pregnant with her second child. 

Thanks to a new birthing facility and a community health programme, she won’t be forced to make a long and arduous journey to ensure a safe birth this time around. 

With quality services nearby, she is far less likely to die related to childbirth.

After her first child, in consultation with the new community care workers in her area, Gillian decided to wait before having a second child. 

She wanted to earn a little extra money to add to her husband’s income as a labourer nearby. 

And her son recently started at the local school, and she wants him to go all the way to university, if that’s what he wants.

So she thought that by getting work, and more experience, she could help make sure her kids can go all way, and enjoy more advantages than she had.

Multiply Gillian’s story by millions across the country, and you will soon have a skilled set of graduates to power the economy of the future.  

If  today’s and tomorrow’s young people are given good advice and quality services, they will avoid the pitfalls of early pregnancy, early marriage and sexually transmitted infections, and propel the country to greater prosperity.

If their rights, choices and opportunities are respected and granted, we will go a long way to bring the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals into reality by 2030.

*****

We’ve seen some significant health gains in the Philippines in recent years - rising life expectancies, better health facilities and more, better social and health insurance coverage. 

Yet maternal mortality has remained almost flat over the last 20 years. Too many mothers still die related to childbirth. In 1995 it the ratio was at 122 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2015 it was at 114.

Most deaths occur during birth, or within the first 24 hours afterwards. Yet contraceptives are also key to bringing down maternal deaths.

According to a John Hopkins University study in 2012, up to 55% of maternal deaths in the Philippines could be averted by contraceptive use.

Yet contraceptive use is stubbornly low. In 2013. The NDHS put modern contraceptive use at 38 percent. 

 

The unmet need for family planning is high, at 18%, and women from the lowest socio-economic levels have the greatest unmet need, at over 21%. 

 

Yet there are positive signs. The Reproductive Health Law was a landmark for the country, and it is superb to see the new administration making the full implementation of the law a cornerstone of its 0 plus 10 point socio-economic agenda.

The Department of Health has laid the foundations for some serious improvements in the family planning programme. More recently the Department of Health, with partners, has also developed its first Costed Implementation Plan for Family Planning for 2017-2020. 

The plan provides a detailed costing of the investments needed for reproductive health commodity security. And more broadly, it should boost efficiency in the family planning programme across all areas.

Yet to reap all these gains, Congress must approve the pre-requisite budget. 

*****

To finish up, I’d just like to say a few words as a dad. 

I have two daughters, aged 11 and 14, so I personally know how hard it can be – for both parents and children – to start talking about sex and relationships.

 

But we have to, because ultimately it’s about their health, safety and wellbeing. 

In the Philippines, far too many teenage girls are getting pregnant – and so put themselves and their babies at risk.

According to the latest Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey almost 23% of 18 year old girls and 35% of 19 year old girls have begun childbearing. Many end up leaving school and giving up on their dreams.

It has been estimated that early childbearing cost the Philippines 33 billion Pesos each year. That is 1.1% of GDP!

Add in the costs of failing to see so many talented young people reach their potential for the country, and the numbers would be astronomical. 

Full implementation of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education, already part of the RPRH law is crucial to tackle this, as well as taking on attitudes and stigma that prevents young people from getting the advice and services they need.

*****

Amid the operational and legal challenges in the full implementation of the RH Law, including the existing Supreme Court TRO on Subdermal Implants, the leadership of the DOH, the National Implementation Team, and the support of RH advocates and civil society organizations, is absolutely critical to making a success of the family planning programme. 

 

As always, UNFPA is on hand to help wherever it can, because as the Philippine Health Agenda says, by all of us working for health we can achieve health for all.

For the millions of mothers like Gillian in Mindanao, who just want their young ones to get the best start in life, and for the millions of young people that are striving to fulfill their potential, it is absolutely vital that they have the knowledge and products they need to plan their futures.

Safer births, and better family planning, helps build a stronger nation. 

Maraming salamat po!

 

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Some P33 billion in potential lifetime income for teenage girls is lost due to early pregnancy, according to a new study on teen pregnancy.

The study funded by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, showed that early childbearing reduces high school completion rates and eventually decreases the predicted daily wage rate profile of women in the Philippines, underscoring the economic implications of teenage pregnancy.

Health economist and research proponent Dr. Alejandro Herrin calculated that a teenage girl who gets pregnant and does not finish high school may potentially lose earnings up to P83,000 a year when she gets paid for work at age 20. This is about 87 per cent of the potential annual income of a 20-year-old woman who completed her high school education and did not get pregnant in her teen years.

Using 2012 and 2013 data from several surveys of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Herrin predicted that pregnancy or childbirth during a girl’s teen years reduce the probability of high school completion. “There is a wide gap in the estimated daily wage rate between a girl who got pregnant early and a girl who gets to finish school,” he said.

The study shows that completing high school education increases daily wage rates of women by P300. At age 20, a girl who began childbearing before age 18 may only earn about P46 a day, compared to the P361 per day estimate for someone who completed high school and did not get pregnant early.

“When taken altogether, the potential lifetime earnings lost due to early childbearing is P33 billion, which is equal to 1.1 per cent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product in 2012,” explained Herrin at a forum on young parenthood organized by Center for Health Solutions and Innovations (CHSI).

On average, 72 per cent of women aged 18-19 years are expected to complete high school if they did not begin childbearing before age 18. The predicted completion rate for teens who began childbearing early is lower at only 65 per cent.

“These results suggest that policies on reducing early childbearing are likely to have substantial impact on the education and economic conditions of women and their families,” concluded Herrin.

“We need to realize that teen pregnancy is not just a health issue. When a girl gets pregnant, her health, education and relationships with her family and community all get entangled in a life-changing roller-coaster,” said UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck.

The social environment of Filipino teen

Another study by renowned demographer Dr. Corazon Raymundo cited risk behaviors and effects of teenage pregnancy on the social environment of a Filipino girl. Using data from the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFSS), Raymundo presented an alarming profile of a pregnant teen.

“Smoking and the use of alcohol and drugs among teens may predict the likelihood of teen pregnancy,” said Raymundo. A girl who admitted having used drugs is six times more likely to engage in premarital sex than a girl who has not used any drugs.

Other factors that predict early sexual encounters and teenage pregnancy are living away from home, being idle or doing nothing, and having older siblings who have gotten pregnant or given birth in their teen years.

Reasonable parenting style and open communication with parents may prevent teen pregnancy. Raymundo and her research team interviewed parents and teenagers in 10 different provinces and found that both parents and their adolescents are open to talking about sex, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“They just don’t know how and where to start,” said Raymundo, pointing out the need to help parents communicate more effectively with their teen children.     

The Commission on Population (POPCOM) is pushing for the enactment of an Adolescent Health Act. “We are starting to gather our evidences to push for a law that will help adolescents and their parents gain better access to information and services on adolescent health and youth development,” said Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM executive director.

Beck said the results of these studies will greatly inform development programs for Filipino adolescents. “It should not be business-as-usual for Filipino teens, especially girls. We need to realize that what we do for Filipino teens now determines the kind of country the Philippines will be a decade later.”

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It has been a year but Bebelonia Andata from an indigenous people’s community in Zamboanga del Sur in southern Philippines, will never forget the joy she felt when she finally received her birth certificate at age 49.

For Bebelonia, having a birth certificate is like proving her existence. Finally, she won’t have to grapple to prove her identity when applying for social services to enjoy her rights as a Filipino.

“I am old but having a birth certificate remains important to me. I will soon be a senior citizen and I have to make sure that I will continue to have access to health services and enjoy other entitlements for old people,” Bebelonia said with a laugh.

Her birth certificate is so important to Bebelonia that she brings it with her anywhere she goes. “Just making sure that I have it when I am asked for it because we live in a remote village and it is difficult to go back home to retrieve it when needed,” she explained.

Bebelonia belongs to the Subanen tribe in the municipality of Dumingag in Zamboanga del Sur. It takes her up to two hours commuting by motorcycle to reach the town proper. She and more than 9,000 other people from indigenous communities are among those who have so far benefited from the late birth registration component of the Indigenous Peoples Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (IPMNCHN) Project of the European Union and United Nations Population Fund.

Joan Sulit, 27, from the same Subanen tribe, said access to health care became easier after she obtained her birth certificate and registered for health services. In fact, she was able to deliver her second child in a health center with PhilHealth accreditation.

Other mothers also speak of improved access to education for their children who were given birth certificates, as well as enrolling their family to the government’s conditional cash transfer program.

“The birth registration is very important not just for us but for each member of our families and we are very thankful that the UNFPA project gave this opportunity to indigenous peoples,” said Vilma Arat, 44.

Implemented together with the Department of Health (DOH) and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the IPMNCHN Project covers Sitio Gawasan in Carmen, North Cotabato; Dumingag in Zamboanga del Sur; Barangay Binicalan in San Luis, Agusan del Sur; Montevista in Compostela Valley; and Kitaotao in Sinuda, Bukidnon.

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Aika Robredo, who represented her mother Vice President Leni Robredo at the World Population Day event, reads her message of commitment for the teenage girl.


Hope for our nation’s transformation lies in how well we invest in our teenage girls - their education, health, and employment prospects.

This was the message of the international observance of World Population Day last July 11. In Manila, around 2,000 people – mostly teenage girls and some boys – from different schools, communities, and institutions came together to celebrate the teenage girl at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

Why the emphasis on teenage girls?

Around 10 million of the 102.4 million Filipinos are girls aged 10-19 years old, and they face more and greater challenges than their male counterparts.

Among those challenges, according to United Nations Population Fund Country Representative Klaus Beck, is how, in many societies, girls who reach puberty are deemed by their families and communities as ready for marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth – robbing them of a chance to pursue a future of their own choice.

“Young girls are often denied basic human rights such as the right to health, right to education, and even the right to choose if and when they want to get married and, if so, to whom,” said Mr. Beck.

In the Philippines, 13.6 per cent of all 15-19 year old girls are either pregnant or have a child. By the age of 19, almost four in 10 girls are, or will soon be, mothers. Without education, their future can be derailed, and they may never realize their full potential.

“But when you are empowered, when you have the means and the information to make your own decisions in life, you are more likely to realize your dreams, your full potential. You thrive and prosper, your community thrives and prospers, and your country thrives and prospers,” Mr. Beck added.

A girl asks a question during the open forum.


Advice from Vice President Leni Robredo: Yourself first

In a message delivered by her daughter, Vice President Leni Robredo offered advice for the young girls in the audience: put yourself and your studies first.

“Embrace the soft power of your femininity,” she said in her keynote address, delivered by eldest daughter Aika Robredo. “There is strength in being a girl... as they say, you save a girl and you save a generation.”

To further illustrate, the vice president referenced a study commissioned by UNFPA in collaboration with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on the demographic dividend in the Philippines: a phenomenon that could propel our country into becoming the 17th largest economy in the world by 2050.

“In our nation today, the numbers show that the youth – all of you – will become a major social and economic force in the next 45 years. As majority of our population enters the ages of 15 to 24 years old, and they become ‘effective workers’ more than ‘effective consumers,’ the number of people who are employed and earn more income overtake the number of people who are dependent on them.”

Also present during the event were Sen. Win Gatchalian, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, Commission on Population Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez, and National Youth Commission OIC Chair Earl Saavedra. All showed solidarity in emphasizing the need for policies and investments in health and education that will empower the youth, creating conditions that will enable them to exercise their rights and consequently, bolster and speed up economic growth.

From left: POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez, Sen. Win Gatchalian, UNFPA Country Representative Klaus Beck, Ms. Aika Robredo, youth peer educator Chloe Reynaldo and Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo. Behind them is the Babaenihan artwork launched at the event.

The Babaenihan spirit

At the event, UNFPA and partners launched the Babaenihan, campaign that aims to empower women, especially teenage girls and make a progressive and responsible society recognize their role in nation building.

“Working together, supporting each other – that is reminiscent of the Filipino bayanihan tradition. This time, we are doing the bayanihan for the Filipino girls – babae,” Mr. Beck said.

“This is the essence of the Babaenihan movement that we are starting today. In addition to the teenage girls themselves, we need all the rest of us, including men and boys, to help teenage girls realize their full potential,” he explained.


 

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7 July 2016


The Philippines stands to benefit from its large population of young people but ensuring access to quality education and youth-friendly health services for teenage girls to prepare them as they enter the working age should be prioritized to realize the demographic dividend.

 “Adolescent girls (10-19 years old) currently make up 10 per cent of the Philippines’ 100 million population. They hold enormous opportunity to transform the future of the Philippines but this can only happen if they have the right information and skills, are healthy, and empowered to make informed decisions in life,” said Klaus Beck, country representative of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.

Mr. Beck emphasized the urgency of taking action as the “Demographic Sweet Spot and Dividend in the Philippines: The Window of Opportunity is Closing Fast,” a study spearheaded by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and supported by UNFPA, showed the high probability the Philippines will miss the rare opportunity of additional economic growth.

This is due to the relatively high fertility rate, or the average number of children by women, especially the poorest, and the relatively high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth population.

One particular hurdle for the Philippines is the high rate of teen pregnancies. Among 15 to 19-year-old Filipino girls, about 1 in 10 has already given birth. A new study by UNFPA also shows that in the Asia-Pacific region, adolescent fertility rates have gone down in all countries with available data except in the Philippines. Other data likewise reveals that 1 of 3 Filipino youth has engaged in early sex and 78 per cent of first sexual engagement was unprotected against the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

According to the demographic dividend study, which was conducted by Dr. Dennis Mapa, dean and professor at the UP School of Statistics, a “demographic dividend” can occur when a county’s working age population is larger than the population that is dependent and younger. But to maximize the dividend, countries must ensure their young working-age populations are equipped to seize opportunities for jobs and other income-earning possibilities.

The study also emphasized that full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law plays a critical role by helping Filipino families realize their wish for smaller families, which is needed if a demographic dividend is to be realized.

“With the right policies and investments in human capital, countries can empower young people to drive economic and social development and boost per-capita incomes,” Mr. Beck said.

Critical youth investments needed to reap a demographic dividend are those that protect rights, including reproductive rights, improve health, including sexual and reproductive health, and provide skills and knowledge to build young people’s capabilities and agency. These investments can also accelerate fertility declines, which can in turn accelerate the demographic transition.

On July 11, the world observes the World Population Day, which highlights emerging population issues. This year’s theme, “Investing in Teenage Girls,” underscores the importance of young girls’ rights to quality education, youth-friendly health care, and decent employment.

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20 June 2016


Penlyn Decena has two children born six years apart. The birth spacing was not purely by choice – she can’t get pregnant too often as she has thin uterine lining that could cause serious complications when she goes on labor and childbirth.

In fact, even if she and her husband wanted to have three children, they decided to stop at two, fearing that she might not survive another child birth.

After giving birth to her second child seven months ago, Penlyn went on the pill but the anxiety of getting pregnant by accident due to a missed pill hounded her. It also did not help that she has been hearing misconceptions about the side effects of modern contraceptives. Will she continue to take the pill or stop and risk another pregnancy?

The answer came when Hamlin Industrial Corporation, a garments factory in Cavite south of Manila where Penlyn works for, introduced new modern contraceptive methods to employees as part of its family planning in the workplace program with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, last year.


Penlyn found peace of mind in a long-acting contraceptive method.

Of the modern contraceptives offered by the company, the subdermal contraceptive implant – a thin rod inserted under the skin in the arm and works just like the pill – specifically caught Penlyn’s attention because it has a three-year effectivity. “I told my husband about it and he was the one who encouraged me to try it since it is available for free in the company,” says Penlyn, an assistant line leader in the factory.

Her factory co-worker, 43-year-old Magdalena Perales, who has three children also availed of the implant. Magdalena says it gives her peace of mind knowing that she can stay employed and help her husband, a security guard, earn an income for the family.

“It is impossible to take care of a baby and have a full time work at the same time. Family planning allows me to focus on work and be more productive economically. I also get to take care of myself and give better attention to my three children,” Magdalena says.


"Family planning allows me to be economically productive. I also get to take care of myself
and my three children," says Magdalena.


Penlyn and Magdalena are just two of the hundreds of women benefiting from the family planning program of Hamlin, which employs up to 3,500 workers, about 80 per cent of whom are women.

Company nurse Elvin Banzali says that for most of the factory workers, access to contraceptives would not have been as easy without the family planning program in the workplace. “The company has made family planning very accessible to the workers not only in terms of provision of contraceptives. The lectures, services in the clinic, and peer health educators make the program truly visible where we work,” he explains.

Family planning information, maternal care services, and contraceptives supplies are available for Hamlin's workers within the workplace.

Rina Baybay, manager of Hamlin’s corporate social responsibility program, notes that family planning was introduced in the company in 2007 with the support of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) but most of the activities focused on raising awareness among their workers. The partnership with UNFPA strengthened the program because of the introduction of modern methods of family planning.

"It has been the company’s mission to ensure quality of life of its employees. The program has boosted the morale of workers because it demonstrates the company’s concern for their welfare. The program has also honed the potential of some workers to become leaders through the peer health educators program,” says Rina.

In 2008, a year after Hamlin first introduced its family planning in the workplace program, a cost-benefit analysis study showed that for an investment of a little over P100,000 in information and education campaign, contraceptives subsidy, and program management costs, contraceptive use among company employees increased to 60 per cent from a low of 31 per cent.