Two-child policy 'will not work'

Posted: 25 November 2002

The 'two-child norm' adopted by some Indian states violates the spirit of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, according to Dr Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Delhi in November 2002, she said: "It needs be reconsidered as it is a coercive way of controlling population." Incentives and disincentives being offered under the two-child norm were contrary to the agreements reached at ICPD and also India's National Population Policy. Such a policy "simply won't work as it does not give women a free choice of family planning", Dr Obaid said.

She added that UNFPA, working with religious organisations, found that many people, who continued childbearing because they wanted male children, had started to respect the needs of women and the value of the girl-child.

"Religious values that are pro-women and pro-girl child need to be propagated and imbibed in the society," she said. Obaid added that theIndian Government should encourage such campaigns, as they would help reduce the number of people opting for female infanticide and sex selective abortion.

UNFPA will provide $75 million to support population and reproductive health programmes in India for the five-year period beginning January2003. Working with the Government and non-governmental organisations, the money will be used to build capacity to improve the quality andaccessibility of reproductive health services, including HIV/AIDS prevention.

SOURCE: The Press Trust of India, 16 November 2002