For information only - not an official document.
  Press Release No: UNIS/POP/31 
Release Date:   12 July 2000
  United Nations Population Fund Marks World Population Day
“Saving Women's Lives”

Statement by Nafis Sadik, Executive Director of UNFPA

 NEW YORK, 11 July (UNFPA) -- Wherever they live in the world, women's lives are full of risk.

-- Every minute, a woman dies as a result of pregnancy:  many more suffer illness or injury.  Pregnancy in the youngest carries the greatest risks -- girls aged 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die than women aged 20 to 24. 

-- Women are more at risk for HIV and from other sexually transmitted infections.  HIV-infected women in Africa now outnumber men by 2 million. 

-- Violence takes as many lives as cancer during women's reproductive years: one woman in three will experience violence at some time in their lives. 

-- In emergencies, women take the responsibility for the oldest and youngest family members.  But they themselves have little protection:  women in emergencies run a much higher risk of violence. 

Many women do not have the freedom to make the choices that shape their lives.  They are poor -- 60 per cent of the world's poor are women and girls.  They have little education -- two thirds of illiterates are women.  They lack health care -- 350 million still do not have access to reproductive health services.  They play little part in political decisions -- only one parliamentarian in eight is a woman.

Better education and health services, including reproductive health, give women more power to decide.  A woman in control of her life is a woman less at risk. 

Change calls for:

-- Commitment:  men and women have equal rights.  Among these rights are education and health care, including reproductive health. 

-- Action:  to change laws, practices, attitudes, behaviour.

-- Leadership:  to motivate change; set goals; remove obstacles; dispel fears; maintain momentum. 

Men must be part of the process.  As community and national leaders, men can initiate and encourage change; as health workers and educators, they can encourage access and improve services; as members of the family, members of the workforce and members of the community, they can take personal responsibility for ensuring respect and safety for women, within the family and beyond it. 

On this World Population Day, let each of us pledge action to save women's lives:  for ourselves, for our communities, for our world.

For more information and interviews, please contact UNFPA New York:  
Corrie Shanahan, tel. (212) 297-5023; e-mail:
William Ryan,  tel. (212) 297-5031; e-mail:

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