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Male', 26 October 2011-the milestone of 7 billion is reached in 5 days time. Globally, people are living longer and healthier lives, and couples are choosing to have fewer children. But huge inequities persist and daunting challenges lie ahead. While many richer countries are now concerned about low fertility and ageing, the poorest nations struggle to meet the needs of rapidly growing populations. Gaps between rich and poor are growing and more people than ever before are vulnerable to food insecurity, water shortages, and weather-related disasters. According to The State of World Population 2011 reportpublished today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, whether we can live together on a healthy planet will depend on the choices and decisions we make today.

"With planning and the right investments in people now-to empower them to make choices that are not only good for themselves, but also for our global commons-our world of 7 billion can have thriving sustainable cities, productive labour forces that fuel economies, and youth populations that contribute to the well-being of their societies," says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin in the foreword of the report, entitled People and Possibilities in a World of 7 Billion.

In a world of 7 billion, Vice President of Maldives, Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, in his address at the SWOP report launching ceremony said that every person should enjoy equal rights and dignity. Yet women continue to face widespread discrimination and violence and we cannot afford to squelch the full potential of half the world's population. He noted, with concern, that in Maldives 1 in 3 women are abused physically or sexually in their lifetime. He also stated that it is challenging to provide adequate support to the cohorts of young people to enable them to achieve their full potential to lead productive lives, including preparation of young couples on sexual health as they embark in their married lives.

Deputy Minister of Finance and Treasury, Ms. Haifa Naeem, in her presentation said that in Maldives, over the past decade, the fertility patterns have improved with average family size more than halved since 1990s-is linked to advances in education, health and increased opportunities for women.  She noted that policies to strengthen the capacity of the country's human resources represented by the growing reservoir of unrealized human capital would be beneficial.

The State of World Population 2011 is mainly a report from the field, where demographers, policymakers, governments, civil society and individuals are grappling with population trends ranging from ageing to rapidly rising numbers of young people, from high population growth rates to shrinking populations, and from high rates of urbanization to rising international migration. The countries featured in this report are China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.


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