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Distinguished Mr. Li Bin, Vice Minister of National Health Commission, Ms. Zong Ming, Vice Mayor of Shanghai Municipal Government, 
Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund, it is my great pleasure to address the China national event in commemoration of 2021 World Population Day. Many thanks go to the National Health Commission and Shanghai Municipal People's Government for inviting UNFPA to this event. 

This year, the global theme for World Population Day is “Rights and Choices are the Answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution lies in prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people.” 

It responds to the evolving fertility and demographic trends affected by the global pandemic. 

Earlier analyses of existing data -- largely from high-income countries, as well as historical precedents -- indicated that COVID-19 may be accelerating fertility decline in some countries, as couples respond to the crisis by delaying pregnancy or changing fertility plans. 

At the same time, data and projections have also suggested that, in some low- and middle-income countries, the pandemic has interrupted access to family planning services, even increasing unintended pregnancies among vulnerable groups. 

In China, the latest national census has suggested a sustained fertility decline in 2020. 

While factors affecting women to have children may differ from country to country, UNFPA believes in the power that enables women to make their own decisions. 

We call for leaders to respond to fertility and demographic shifts by prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people, including through their access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Equally importantly, policies around fertility need to be gender responsive and consider: 

  • how best to eliminate gender discrimination at the workplace and across society; 
  • how best to strengthen women’s employment potential and translate that into reality; 
  • how best to support both women and men to balance work and life through employment and social insurance policies; and 
  • how best to improve access to quality SRH services.

China has made great efforts in containing COVID-19 pandemic and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights. In May this year, it announced the country would implement a three-childnew fertility policy in response to population ageing and low fertility. The Government has noted, the new policy must be accompanied by a package of complementary policies including incentives and safety nets - grounded in gender equality and human rights - to support those individuals and couples who wish to have more children to be able to do so in an enabling socioeconomic environment. 

UNFPA, is committed to working with the Government of China to advance and strengthen the sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights of all people in China, especially those of women and young people.

I wish the event a success.

Thank you!