MPs sensitised to population, health and development issues

Kathmandu, December 31

A one-day workshop was organised in Kathmandu today to sensitise parliamentarians to emerging population and development issues.

More than 65 lawmakers from various political parties attended the workshop organised by the National Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund.

Dina Mahalaxmi Upadhayay, NFPPD chairperson and lawmaker from Makawanpur, said the workshop was organised to enhance the parliamentarians’ understanding of reproductive health and rights, and population issues as enshrined in the constitution. Issues such as post-quake reconstruction and rebuilding priorities were also reviewed at the workshop.

Vice-chairperson of the National Planning Commission Yubaraj Khatiwada, shed light on emerging population issues such as demographic dividend, migration, urbanisation and called for a collaborative approach to cash in on the demographic dividend.

He also talked about government’s reconstruction and rebuilding plans and priorities, stressing the need for an integrated settlement approach to rehabilitate people displaced by the earthquake.

Presenting his paper on reproductive health and rights in Nepal’s context, Bal Krishna Subedi called on lawmakers to promote sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of young people and presented evidence of the negative consequences of child marriage. Similarly, Associate Professor of Tribhuvan University Bidhan Acharya, explained how Nepal is a small country geographically speaking, but is big in terms of population size. A large population can provide many opportunities and if appropriate steps are taken, a high economic growth is possible, he said. The high number of working-age population is an opportunity for a federal Nepal, he added.

Another presentation linked to UNFPA’s new State of the World Population Report 2015 was on how humanitarian crises were dealing a huge blow to economies, communities and individuals. Fragility, vulnerability and growing inequalities affect millions of people and curtail opportunities for peace and development.

Addressing the workshop, Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar, chief guest of the event, hailed efforts made by NFPPD and UNFPA to sensitise lawmakers to population and development issues that are very much interconnected. She urged parliamentarians to bring any burning issue related to population and development to the attention of the Parliament and the government.

UNFPA Representative Giulia Vallese said her agency believed that partnership with parliamentarians is a must to build support for ICPD Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals. Because parliamentarians act as a bridge between the people and the government, they are instrumental in advocating for the rights and needs of Nepali people, she said.

It is also important to break the silos between the development and humanitarian fields and to promote dialogue between politicians and the academia on population issues with parliamentarians playing a key legislative and policy role in society, the UN official said.