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Islamic Religious Leaders to Meet on Harnessing Demographic Dividend.

9/30/2018 12:00:00 AM   |      |   

Islamic Religious Leaders to Meet on Harnessing Demographic Dividend.

On September 09, 2018 - The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with National Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs hold a two-day summit in Abuja- 12th – 13th September, 2018.

Graced by the West and Central Africa Regional Director of UNFPA, Mr Mabingue Ngom,about 200 Islamic religious leaders from across the country converged in Abuja on September 11, 2018 for a two day forum with the theme ``Harnessing Demographic Dividend (DD) for Sustainable Development of Nigeria: The Role of Muslim Religious Leaders

The overall objectives of the forum being organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, is to enhance the capacity of religious leaders to advocate for policies and programmes towards harnessing DD in Nigeria.

Through an interactive and consensus building approach, the forum addressed issues of Gender inequality, maternal health, child spacing and fertility transition which influences the population structure.

As encapsulated by the UNFPA, Demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population (15 to 64) is larger than the non-working-age share of the population (14 and younger, and 65 and older)".  In other words, it is “a boost in economic productivity that occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents. This therefore implies that a country with both increasing numbers of young people and declining fertility has the potential to reap demographic dividend.

The attainment of demographic transition and DD demand a reduction in maternal and infant mortality as well as reduction in fertility rates and in particular of Africa’s young people. It requires taking into account the interplay between customs, traditions, cultures and religious beliefs of the people.

Arousing the consciousness and strong commitment of religious leaders and Faith Based Organizations towards harnessing DD becomes very pivotal, in view of the fact that they are legitimate actors in the quest for attitudinal change to achieve the desired development and transformation.

It is appropriate that the forum is holding in Nigeria, considering the fact that it is the most populous country in Africa and the 7th most populous country in the world with an estimated population of 188 million in 2017. The major worry here is that the larger chunk of the nation’s population is made up of young person’s which further increased the dependency ratio.

A well implemented road map to harness demographic dividend will therefore accelerate changes in the population age structure, such that there will be growing numbers of people in the workforce population relative to the number of dependents.


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