Some population experts have advocated increased investment in health, education and well-being of women and girls as well as critical population groups for global development.
Alhaji Nasir Kwarra, executive chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), made the call at the launch of the State of the World Population (SWOP) in Abuja on Thursday.
The theme of the 2023 SWOP is: “8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The Case for Rights and Choices”.
Mr Kwarra stressed the imperatives of safeguarding these individuals that make up the eight billion world population as well as improving the communities where they reside.
“Given the current and anticipated population growth, Nigeria stands to gain if significant and targeted investments are made.
“In providing quality education that responds to the dynamics of global labour market which favour girls, we need to keep our girls in school and protect them from early marriage,” he said.
The NPC chairman said the right investments would accelerate economic growth and create opportunities for harnessing the demographic dividend.
Ulla Mueller, country representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), reiterated the commitment of the agency to making the world a better place for all.
Ms Mueller said that giving women and girls access to bodily autonomy would enhance progress and economic stability.
She explained that women’s access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) would galvanise end to maternal mortality.
“About 44 per cent of women and girls are unable to exercise their bodily autonomy.
“Every single woman has the right to decide when to have children, and how many,” she said.
Adebiyi Olufunsho, permanent secretary, Ministry of Heath, called for implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
Mr Olufunsho, represented by John Ovuoraye, director Gender/Adolescent Division, said that the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals had the elimination of violence against women as a key target.
The permanent secretary explained that the ultimate focus of every programme should be on empowering women and girls to make informed choices regarding their sexual reproductive health.
He said the case for ‘Rights and Choices’ was a reminder that complete health was not the absence of illness, rather, the state of complete mental, physical, financial and psychological well-being of every man and woman of a nation.
Mr Olufunsho reiterated the imperatives of gender equality which he identified as key to achieving bodily autonomy and global development.
He affirmed the determination of the ministry to work closely with the population commission and other stakeholders to implement recommendations of the SWOP.
The SWOP report is an annual flagship achievement of the UNFPA.
It usually comes with a theme that spotlights prevailing or emerging population and development concerns with focus on unique population groups – women, young people, adolescents and girls.