Pretoria – The world population is projected to reach 7 billion on 31 October 2011, according to global population prospects, released by the UN Population Division. This is opportune for South Africa as it is expected to take place during “census month” – the outcome of which will define the country’s exact contribution to the 7 billion global population.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working with the Government of South Africa at national and provincial levels on a number of activities to engage partners and the general public on the significance of this major population milestone. World Population Day (WPD), commemorated annually on 11 July 2011, will be the official launch of the World at 7 Billion Campaign, during which UNFPA will collaborate with Government’s Population Units on events that promote awareness of both challenges and opportunities presented by this milestone.
Youth development has been identified as the main theme for this year’s World Population Day in South Africa. Every young person deserves education, including sexuality education, and access to comprehensive health services. With the right policies, investments and social support, young people can enjoy healthier lives free of poverty and enhance prospects for peace and stability. The South African Department of Social Development will convene a national commemoration under the theme “Prospects of the youth demographic dividend in South Africa”; Limpopo’s theme is: “Young People: The future of Limpopo”; while the Free State examines “Youth Development and Gender Equality” drawing from the contents of the “State of the Province Population Report” be launched by the Premier on this day at the University of Free State, Bloemfontein.
The Eastern Cape will focus on the theme of “Adolescents Sexual and Reproductive Health”, highlighting the challenges of teenage pregnancies, and forced marriages. Youth and adult partners will engage broadly on intensifying efforts to prevent and ultimately combat this practice which denies the girl child the opportunities and joys of childhood. Young people are already transforming society, politics and culture. By more actively engaging women and young people, we can build a better future for all generations.
At an international level, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, will on the 11th of July deliver a message for the Day. The UNFPA will also launch the “7 Billion Actions” campaign, a global movement to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities presented by a world of 7 billion and mobilize individuals to take action in their community. The campaign is open to participation by all UN system partners as well as civil society, business, academia and others.
In preparation for the World at 7 Billion, there will also be a 7-day countdown from 24th October, United Nations Day, leading up to the birth of the world’s 7 billionth baby. October will see both the birth of the world’s babies that cross the 7 billion population as well as enumerators collecting data that will provide an exhaustive account of the South African population.
UNFPA encourages South Africans to get counted as part of the national and global population during census month. Let every person say “I am here, I count”.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.