Large-scale commemorations were held in Beijing on Thursday to mark the 13th World Population Day.
Activities organized by the State Family Planning Commission at Zhongshan Park near Tian'anmen Square, included a conference highlighting "Poverty, Population and Development," a photographic exhibition showing poor mothers benefiting from China's poverty-alleviation programs, and advice on women's reproductive health, contraception, mental health and bearing and rearing healthier children.
Siri Tellier, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said at the conference that China, the most populous developing country, had done a great job in improving women's reproductive health and eliminating poverty.
As the world's destitute continue to increase and the economic and technical gaps between the most and least developed countries keeps widening, the UNFPA is urging the world to pay more attention to men and women trapped in extreme poverty who lack real choices, opportunities and basic services to improve their lot.
A recent survey released by the World Bank predicts that the world's destitute may top 1.5 billion by the year's end and nearly75 percent of them live in remote rural areas.
With such side-effects of poverty as unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, discrimination against women and environmental degradation rampant worldwide, "we must step up family planning efforts, and the war on poverty will not be won unless we direct more resources to women and reproductive health," Thoraya Ahmed Obald, executive director of the UNFPA said in her message for 2002 World Population Day.
According to Pan Guiyu, deputy head of the State Family Planning Commission, China has stuck to a family-planning policy with poverty alleviation as its final goal since the International Population and Development Conference in Cairo in 1994.
The Chinese government not only increased its financial support to family planning in poverty-stricken central and western areas, but also mapped out a series of preferential policies to benefit destitute households adopting the family planning policy.
So far, China's destitute population has dropped from 250 million in 1979 to 30 million at present. In rural areas, the proportion of destitute people has also declined from 30.7 percent to 3 percent during the same period.
World Population Day was first inaugurated by the United Nations in 1990 to mark the date of July 11, 1987 when the world's population hit 5 billion.
Since 1996, every World Population Day has had a special theme defined by the UNFPA.
(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2002)