The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) Region I is set to celebrate the annual World Population Day (WPD) on July 11 with the theme “Dynamic Demographics: To address population growth or decline, we need rights and choices at the centre.”

This year’s theme is a reflection of the result of the 2021 State of the World Population Report which highlights the compromised health care systems particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health and the exacerbated gender-based violence which has increased due to the imposed lockdown. In a statement by UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, she said, “What was previously bad is now worse with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in increasing sexual violence, more unintended pregnancies, and new barriers to health access along with job and education losses.”
According to the report, nearly half of women in 57 developing countries are denied the right to decide whether to have sex with their partners, use contraception or seek health care. Said report also revealed that women in the lowest-income countries suffer the most.
The Philippines is not also spared from this global issue. Current data shows that Filipino women, on average, give birth to one child more than they intend. This phenomenon is worsened by poverty, as women with less income and lower educational attainment usually have higher unintended pregnancies. In addition, there has been an increasing trend in the number of adolescent pregnancies, particularly among women aged 10 to 14 years old.
As of July 2021, the world population has already reached 7.9 billion. Based on the 2020 Census of Population and Housing (2020 CPH) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the total population of the Philippines as of May 1, 2020 is at 109,035,343. The said number increased by 8,053,906 from 100,981,437 in 2015, which translates to an annual population growth rate (PGR) of 1.63 percent.

POPCOM I, together with the local government units and its partner agencies, has lined-up various campaign strategies to promote the celebration and to ensure the unhampered access to family planning information and services even during the pandemic to avoid unintended pregnancies. The POPCOM I Helpline is also open from Monday-Friday 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, to cater to clients seeking information on family planning and sexual and reproductive health and to those who would like to refer gender-based violence cases.

POPCOM hopes that with this celebration, the concerns of women and girls will be more highlighted and interventions to realize their rights will be prioritized. (by: Mae Grace M. Ariola/ POPCOM Region I).