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On 27 January, UNFPA Representative, Dr Rita Columbia, gave a statement to Al-Sabah newspaper about demographic dividend and the importance of putting robust, evidence-based, and people-centred policies.

During the interview, a mistake in translation from English to Arabic occurred. UNFPA Representative was misquoted on population growth. Dr Columbia was highlighting the increase in the number of young people will lead Iraq to the demographic dividend opportunity.

Complete Statement of UNFPA Representative to Al-Sabah as given in English.

[Beginning of statement] “The demographic situation in Iraq has been changing. We see a ratio of the younger population getting higher, with about 50 to 60% of people aged up to 30 years old, which provides the opportunity of demographic dividend.

If there are policies and actions from the country, government and communities to empower young people, especially girls, with education and health services, and family planning and employment, then within 20 years, Iraqi can make a big jump towards economic stability and development.

Based on the Iraq Women Integrated Social and Health Survey (I-WISH-2) conducted recently by the Central Statistical Office at the Ministry of Planning, with support of UNFPA, a third of the women population in Iraq experience at least one form of gender-based violence, similar to the global figures. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the risk for women to experience violence and abuse and be unemployed.

Family planning is extremely important for any family to ensure sustainable growth for their children, for family prosperity and their own economic prosperity. Today, we see that access to modern contraception is not universal in Iraq, which limits the choices of women and families and couples.

However, UNFPA currently supports the Ministry of Health at the Federal and Kurdistan Region levels to address this issue. We are proud to have a National Birth Spacing & Family Planning Strategy. We hope that is strategy will be well implemented.

WI take this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Health and the local authorities at the Governorates level, who pay attention to gender-based violence and family planning with support from donors like Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. [end of statement]

UNFPA reaffirms its commitment to work with all strategic and implementing partners in Iraq to ensure rights and choices for all through ending unmet need for family planning, ending gender-based violence and harmful practices and ending preventable maternal death.


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. For more information or media inquiries, please contact Salwa Moussa, Communications Specialist,    009647809171035