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By Choice, not by Chance, Family Planning, Human Rights and Development'

On November 15th, UNFPA Representative, Mr. Pornchai Suchitta launched the State of the World Population Report 2012 in J.L. Villa, Ai-mutin, Dili. This report states that family planning is a human right. Yet today 222 million women in developing countries are unable to exercise that right because they lack access to contraceptives, information and quality services or because social and economic forces prevent them from taking advantage of services even where they are available.

The State of World Population 2012 report explains why family planning is a right, it examines the challenges in ensuring that all women, men and young people are able to exercise that right and suggests actions that governments and international organizations can take to give everyone the power and the means to decide freely and responsibly how many children to have and when to have them.

The theme of the report is particularly relevant to Timor-Leste, where the fertility rate of 5.7 live births for the average woman remains very high by international standards and 31% of married women have an unmet need for family planning. Timor-Leste also has the second highest teenage pregnancy rate in South East Asia. While Timor-Leste has been making progress in relation to reproductive health and family planning over the past decade, significant challenges remain.

During her delivery of the key note speech, the First Lady of Timor Leste, Senora Isabel Ferreira da Costa stated ‘I have become aware during my recent trip to Manufahi District that there is a big percentage of women under the age of 17 years that are marrying and pregnant, despite international best practices and recommendations on the contrary... This situation is not only a risk to the maternal and infant health, but it is also connected to social and economic prejudices of these women, who are forced to interrupt their studies and professional training.' Senora Isabel appealed to those present to assist the health services to provide better information about the rights to reproductive health and methods of birth spacing which are available to couples.
This report links the various reasons why family planning is an essential human right - using health, economic and social perspectives and case studies from around the world.

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin spoke of the "positive multiplier effect" that family planning has on development at the report launch in London. Dr. Babatunde said that "Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women's increased labour-force participation boosts nations' economies."

To download a copy of this report please visit the following website: