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July 10 – The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through the Ministry of Economy with technical support from UNFPA – the United Nations Population Fund presented the National Population Policy to the Afghanistan Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (APFPD) during the forum’s second meeting at the Wolesi Jirga for comments and feedback of the members of the APFPD. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Golalai Nur Safi.

The Population Policy was presented by the Ministry of Economy represented by Strategic Policy Advisor, Dr. Khair Ul Maab, and the Deputy Director of Policy and Planning, Mr. Mohammadullah Rahmdel.

The main features of the presentation included population and socio-economic situation of Afghanistan, importance of population policy, role of an accurate and precise population policy in the development and enhancing the standards of living of people and overall economic growth of the country. It was insisted that the existence of a population policy is emphatic and critical for efficient development planning.  

“In a traditional society such as Afghanistan, it will be very difficult to adopt a population policy without engaging religious scholars and Ulema Council. We need to work closely with our religious community and shuras for success of a policy as such,” said Dr. Mh. Saleh Saljuqi member of the parliament and the APFPD.

Member parliamentarians keenly praised the initiative of developing a population policy by the Ministry of Economy with support from UNFPA. They also voiced their concern regarding barriers in addressing different population issues and showed interest to help remove the barriers.

“We have the support of various entities in relation to UNFPA mandate, said Dr. Bashir Najeeb UNFPA Population and Development Specialist, “particularly regarding Family Planning / birth spacing. UNFPA in collaboration with the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, the Religious Scholars Council and the Ministry of Public Health translated a book that discusses family planning in the light of Islam. The content and recommendations of the book are agreed upon by Al-Az’har University. Additionally, in 2013, 500 Afghan religious scholars from across the country signed a declaration that said family planning was allowable in Islam”.

UNFPA shall gather all constructive suggestions and comments from the Afghan Parliament and different governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to the Afghanistan Population Policy which will enrich the document.

Ministry of Economy and UNFPA was requested at the meeting to arrange a high level event after the parliamentarians return from recess, to further review and lobby for higher level political support for adoption and implementation of the policy.