Olga and Andrey, a couple in Minsk, Belarus, have one daughter, Yulia, age three. They’d like to eventually have two or three kids, says Olga, but cannot afford it. Nationally, the average wage is about $430 a month, while the cost of living for a family of four is about $1,600 a month. Many couples, like Olga and Andrey, cannot afford to have the number of children they want. In 2002, the government launched a program to provide couples with financial support when they have children, from incentives for antenatal check-ups and birth, to full-pay maternity leave, to a monthly family allowance for up to three years of parental leave. The program has helped many families like Olga and Andrey start a family, but has not removed all obstacles along the way to a larger family — including barriers related to gender inequality in the workplace post-parental leave, and the lack of comprehensive sexuality education in schools to educate the next generation on their rights.
In its annual State of World Population report, The Power of Choice, @UNFPA examines the barriers, country by country, that limit choices for women and families around the world such as financial support and stability, as in the case of Olga and Andrey. As UNFPA acknowledges in its report: no country has yet made reproductive rights truly a reality for all. The barriers are different in different places — some are larger, some are harder to resolve, than others. But they exist everywhere, meaning millions of women are having more or fewer children than they want. #SWOP2018
Photo: UNFPA, Egor Dubrovsky