U.N official says 7 billion could be seen positively

U.N official says 7 billion could be seen positively

SERA DEVOR ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
U.N official says 7 billion could be seen positively

Women’s participation in education, politics and the labor force and lack of sex education for young people are major population problems in Turkey, officials say. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK.

As the world marks its population topping 7 billion today, a senior U.N. official Huque said the U.N. was not ringing alarm bells simply about the growing number of people on Earth, but on the need to “ensure health, gender equality and social justice” for all.

“Our projection is that if current trends continue, the population of Turkey will reach 100 million by 2050, so I’m not very worried. But if you push too hard to have more children it could lead to issues. Many cities like Istanbul are so crowded already,” Dr. Zahidul Huque, the U.N. Population Fund’s (UNFPA) representative in Ankara, said in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.

“The structure of the population in Turkey is pretty good given the average fertility rate, which is near 2.1 children per woman. However, there is a huge gap between the West (1.7) and the East (3.3),” he said.

Still, Huque noted that Turkey is far behind when it comes to the gender equality index.

 “We are focusing on increasing women’s participation in education, politics and the labor force,” he said. “Domestic violence against women is also an issue, which is a paradox considering that Turkey is a developed country that wants to enter the European Union.”

Another major problem for Turkey, Huque said, is the lack of sex education for young people, which results in a high level of unwanted pregnancies. “There is no proper sex education in schools. Gender relations are also missing. We are trying to cooperate with the Ministry of Education to see if we can introduce new things into the curriculum,” he said.

To help Turkey tackle outstanding problems, the UNFPA has launched various programs and projects in cooperation with government authorities, the police, non-governmental groups and religious figures.

“Turkey is doing much better compared to many countries, actually,” Huque said. “Turkey is willing to help its neighboring countries, and it was able to provide help to countries such as Somalia. But it should not lose sight of domestic issues such as gender violence and sexual education for adolescence.”

The United Nations has designated Oct. 31 as the day on which the world population is projected to reach 7 billion.

In a report released for the milestone occasion, UNFPA said having large numbers of young adults could help many countries reduce poverty.

However, it warned that a failure to create jobs for the youngsters could lead to social unrest, pointing out that the 23.4-percent youth unemployment in the Arab world was a major contributor to the uprisings there.