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Areas of action

The German contribution to promoting sexual and reproductive health


A pregnant woman during a routine examination in a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia.

Sexual and reproductive health is closely linked to the entire issue of popu­la­tion growth. It will only be possible to reduce popu­la­tion growth rates while respecting human rights where people are free to decide on all matters relating to sexuality and where they can demand all their rights.

Although the percentage growth rate of the global popu­la­tion is no longer as high as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, the number of people living on our planet increases by almost 80 million each year. While growth rates overall have then slowed somewhat, some regions of the world are actually seeing the rate of popu­la­tion growth accelerate. The Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung esti­mates that the popu­la­tion of the poorest coun­tries in the world alone is set to increase by about 2.3 billion to 8 billion people by 2050.

The growth in the global popu­la­tion poses a huge challenge for sus­tain­able devel­op­ment – at national and global level. Beyond its significance as a human right, sexual and reproductive health is thus also an im­por­tant precondition for a forward-looking popu­la­tion policy.

A wide spectrum of co­op­er­a­tion

In almost every area of German devel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, measures are already being implemented that have a direct or indirect impact on popu­la­tion dynamics in the partner coun­try (popu­la­tion growth, ageing, urbanisation, migration). Rural devel­op­ment and water supply projects, for instance, take into account the potential impacts of demographic change, and look at options to adapt accordingly.

An equally wide spectrum of measures directly affect popu­la­tion dynamics. They include: sex education and HIV prevention, family planning, antenatal and perinatal care, prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, prevention of gender-based violence, and action to eradicate female genital mutilation. The overarching principle applicable to all measures is that they be guided by human rights.

Since the In­ter­national Conference on Population and Devel­op­ment in Cairo in 1994 Germany has made available a total of more than one billion euros for improving reproductive health in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Most of this was channelled through bilateral co­op­er­a­tion. Some 50 German projects throughout the world are promoting popu­la­tion-related actions and sexual and reproductive health care services.

BMZ Initiative on Rights-based Family Planning and Maternal Health

At the G8 summit in Muskoka in 2010 Germany pledged additional funding for maternal and child health. One example of activities in this field is the BMZ’s Initiative on Rights-based Family Planning and Maternal Health. Essentially the Initiative pursues three goals:

  1. To improve knowledge and acceptance of modern family planning methods;
  2. To expand access to modern family planning methods and services;
  3. To increase the number of births attended by health professionals.

Particular importance is attached to comprehensive sex education, close co­op­er­a­tion with civil society and private actors and training birth attendants. Between 2012 and 2015 the BMZ will be providing some 90 million euros a year for this purpose.

Germany’s principal partners at inter­national level include the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Inter­national Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.

The sub-sections below provide detailed information on the different areas of action in which German devel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is engaged to promote sexual and reproductive health and realise the pertinent rights:

BMZ glossary

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