In developing countries, many women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy or while giving birth.
Globally, about 39,000 girls are forced into marriages every day while four million are subjected to female genital cutting yearly.
The world must make bold and courageous moves to get to the three zeros:
Zero unmet needs for family planning; zero maternal deaths; and zero violence and harmful practices against women and girls, including child marriage and female genital cutting.
The annual World Population Day, first marked on July 11, 1987, keeps track of progress by United Nations member states on urgent and emerging population issues. Great progress has since been made amid challenges.
In 1987, the world population was an estimated five billion; today, it is 7.3 billion. That year, Kenya had 21 million people, but it has 52 million today. The figures have doubled over time for reasons such as improved maternal healthcare for women and girls, lower percentage of underage girls being forced into early marriages and more girls in school and in workplaces.
Then, reproductive and sexual health was an adage, the rights of women and girls could not be spoken about loudly in public, family planning services were the preserve of a few urban elites, female genital cutting of women and girls was rampant and education for women in Kenya was picking up slowly.
Today, more women have access to sexual reproductive health services, fewer girls are subjected to child marriage and fewer women die from pregnancy-related complications. The number of maternal deaths each year, for example, decreased by about 40 per cent over the past 25 years and one in five girls is forced into marriage before she turns 18, against one in three in 1994.
Despite the impressive gains, however, additional efforts are needed to reach those who have been left behind. Of much concern is some 214 million women who want to prevent pregnancies but do not use modern methods of contraception.
In developing countries, many women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy or while giving birth. Globally, about 39,000 girls are forced into marriages every day while four million are subjected to female genital cutting yearly.