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Women Key in Population Growth And Insurance-Muradzikwa

Call for tailor-made insurance products for women….

By Shingirai Vambe

So many are cases of women finding means to survive with children after the death of their spouses, contributing more to the current demographic statistics reviled by the Insurance and Pensions commission (IPEC) and the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).

These two organizations separately and independently surveyed and produced reports on changes in mortality and maternal related issues, all pointing to the need to empower women, giving them the right and power to choices.

IPEC Commissioner, Mrs Grace Muradzikwa told the Post On Sunday newspaper that the data they are getting must be sex disaggregated and as a regulator, they are pushing for products that are tailor made for women and not just general, to increase uptake in the insurance sector. She said financial inclusion is of paramount importance for women in making life decisions and choices.

She said the current demographic changes and behaviours are as a result of choices made and one of them is prioritising the bread and butter issues more than anything.

Last week UNFPA commemorated world population day, and Executive Director, Ms Natalia Kanem said, imagine a world where everyone – all 8 billion of us – has a future bursting with promise and potential. Now open your eyes to the current reality that 4 billion women and girls – half of humanity – face discrimination solely based on their gender, yet Thirty years ago, at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), we set out to achieve a world in which people lived longer, healthier lives and enjoyed more rights and choices than ever before.

“This World Population Day is a reminder that we can achieve the prosperous, peaceful and sustainable future envisioned by the ICPD and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development if we harness the power of every human being on the planet. When we unlock the full potential of women and girls – encouraging and nurturing their desires for their lives, their families and their careers – we galvanize half the leadership, ideas, innovation, and creativity to better society,” said Kanem.

She added and said, sexual and reproductive health and rights for all is the foundation for gender equality, dignity and opportunity. Nevertheless, over 40 per cent of women around the world cannot exercise their right to make decisions as fundamental as whether or not to have children.

Though there are pointers showing a high rate of deaths between the age of 18 to 35 globally, Africa and Zimbabwe in particular has recorded a high number of early child marriages and teen pregnancies in the past few years, this as a result of exclusion, poverty and other socio-economic and or political issues.

This was however confirmed by IPEC at a workshop in Harare last week that there has been an improvement on the mortality of the general population from 17.48 per mille in 2002 to 7.77 in 2019 (Index Mundi). The 2022 census also confirmed the improvement in mortality, having a 51% decrease in deaths from the top 10 causes of death between 2009 and 2019 and HIV deaths have also decreased from 120,000 in 2001 to 20,000 in 2019.

IPEC bemoaned lack of will by legislators because there’s very little legislation and or policies on mortality, however, the new bills allow the regulator to prescribe actuarial assumptions and valuation methods.

IPEC Commissioner, Dr Grace Muradzikwa

In connecting the dots, Commissioner, Muradzikwa highlighted the little to no effort by women in securing life, health, and or funeral insurances due to a myriad of challenges that include access and equality, especially in areas of decision making processes.

In that respect, Advancing gender equality is a crosscutting solution to many population concerns.

In ageing societies that worry about labour productivity, achieving gender parity in the workforce is the most effective way to improve output and income growth. Meanwhile, in countries experiencing rapid population growth, women’s empowerment through education and family planning can bring enormous benefits by way of human capital and inclusive economic growth.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs Community Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mr. Moses Mhike told delegates in Harare that it is possible to build thriving, inclusive societies regardless of population size by radically rethinking how we talk about and plan for population change.

“Today we launch the report entitled: “8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: the case for rights and choices” which acknowledges the importance of gender equality in world population and development issues. It makes the case that countries have an obligation under international human rights law and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure women and girls have equal access to opportunities in order to unleash the ‘world’s infinite possibilities’,” Mhike said.

He went on further to say: We must safeguard their right to sexual and reproductive health, and make needed investments to realise their full social and economic potential.

“When women and girls are empowered by societies to exert autonomy over their lives and bodies, they and their families thrive. The knock-on effect is a better, more inclusive world, well-equipped to deal with whatever demographic changes and challenges the future holds,” added Mhike.

A call was made to policy makers, to build resilient populations not by setting targets and stifling choices but by pursuing policies that enable individuals to realize their own reproductive ideals and broader well-being, including through education, health care, clean water, opportunities and more.

The World population day theme for this year’s commemorations is: “Unleashing the power of gender equality: Uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilities”.

Across the globe and sectors, women and girls have proved to be lagging behind and the call is to increase the volume and raise awareness on the opportunities that lie ahead of them, through choice making and access for self-development and growth.