Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame has told participants at the International Conference on Family Planning that it is high time for all societies to overcome the old mentality that the more children you give birth to, the richer you become.
“Larger families were often associated with greater pride, as well as a solution for economic stability, since children would take care of their parents, once they could no longer work,” Jeannette Kagame said on Monday – November 12, 2018 during a luncheon with organizers of International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2018) in Kigali.
According to the First Lady said that parents in the past would have more children to counterattack the higher rates of mortality, which should not be the case anymore in this era of advanced modern medicine.
She therefore tasked participants to find short, medium and long-term approaches that foster positive mindset shift in todays’ societies.
“The question we are now facing is what short, medium and long-term approaches would foster a positive mindset shift in our societies, if we wanted to encourage a greater uptake in family planning, to respond to our new socio-economic realities,” First Lady Jeannette Kagame said.
She also asked stakeholders to continue advocating for universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, in a bid to enable communities to fully enjoy the right to plan their families according to their aspirations.
“As a matter of fact, being able to plan, is about life-long opportunities, as much as is about human dignity and rights, particularly those of women and youth,” she said.
Mrs. Kagame believes that to improve family planning, comprehensive sexual education should be availed and ensure the holistic development of communities.
“The acceleration of our economic growth, and poverty reduction, requires access to comprehensive family planning services, for a more favorable population age structure, with more people being of working age,” Rwandan First Lady also said.
She indicated that modernization carries several ambitions “that can only be fulfilled when societies become more educated, healthier, industrious, and consistent with their gender empowerment mechanisms, for sustainable socio-economic gains, across the board.”
She asked to reconcile cultural and religious beliefs that usually discourage the use of family planning methods, with the reality that with smaller families, communities can enjoy greater economic freedom, access to education and health services, while preserving natural environment.
“We need to ask ourselves, to what achievements should communities aspire, to be convinced of the long-term benefits of determining the number of births, according to one’s economic abilities, while spacing them out for healthier babies and mothers.”
Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund commended Rwanda’s effort through the Ministry of Health and Imbuto Foundation in helping youth and adolescents have access to reproductive health information.
She said that innovation and technology is necessary to curb the family planning issue giving the example of Rwanda where technology and digital transformation are the way forward to secure the rights and the future of the next generation and for a sustainable development generation.