DEVELOPMENT REPORT - World Population Day

By Caty Weaver

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Last Tuesday was World Population Day. The message this year was Saving Women's Lives. The director of the United Nations Population Fund, Nafis Sadik, released a statement in observance of the day.

Doctor Sadik said that the lives of women around the world are full of risk. She said more than five-hundred-thousand women die each year as a result of pregnancy. She said many more pregnant women become sick or injured because of their condition. Doctor Sadik said pregnancy is even most dangerous for young women. She said girls between the ages of ten and fourteen are five times more likely to die from the condition than women ten years older.

The UN agency director also discussed women and their increased risk of getting the virus that causes AIDS. Doctor Sadik said there are two-million more African women with the HIV infection than African men. She said women also are at higher risk for getting other diseases spread through sexual activity.

The UN official urged all people to take action to save women's lives. She said people must support equal rights for women. Doctor Sadik said women should receive the same education and health care as men.

The UN official said many women do not have the freedom to make decisions to control their lives. Sixty percent of the poor people in the world are female. Doctor Sadik said sixty-five percent of the people who can not read or write are women. And she said three-hundred-fifty-million women can not get reproductive health care.

In some places, even knowledge about reproductive health is limited. Michael Vlassoff is the representative for the UN Population Fund in India. He says people there know about very few methods to prevent pregnancy. He says most people in India only know about operations that end a woman's ability to become pregnant.

Mr. Vlassoff also says the UN is very concerned about the difference in the number of females and males in India. He says the most recent Indian government census showed that there are nine-hundred-twenty-seven females for every one-thousand males.

The UN official says Indian culture values males more highly than females. He says this leads too often to the ending of pregnancies in which the fetus is female.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English