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NAY PYI TAW, 30 November, 2009 – Launching of the 2009 State World Population Report “Facing a changing world: women, population and climate” a round table discussion was held on 30 November 2009 at Royal Kumudra Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw, jointly organized by the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and UNFPA. The round table brought together representatives from the Government, UN agencies, INGOs, NGOs, academicians and three media. The highlights of the Report were presented by Mr. Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar.

The opening statement delivered by U Aung Tun Khaing, Deputy Director General, Department of Social Welfare, focused on climate change resulting in a negative impact on people's livelihoods, particularly women. Women are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they do not have access to as many income-earning opportunities as men. “The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is currently developing a Plan of Action for Women in Emergencies in collaboration with UNFPA and its partners”, said U Aung Tun Khaing.

Opening remarks made by Mr. Mohamed Abdel-Ahad, UNFPA Representative for Myanmar, stressed the human dimension of climate change, how climate change affects people, especially the poor, the marginalized and women and how people’s behaviour and practices can help cool down our warming world. The report called for increased investment in empowering people, especially poor women who are in the front line and bear the brunt of climate change. “The State of World Population Report was the product of collaborative efforts by UNFPA, International Organization of Migration, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Environment Programme” said Mr. Abdel-Ahad. The report called for joint efforts by various partners to improve access to reproductive health, voluntary family planning, the education of girls and the promotion of women’s empowerment. The report also included a supplement on young people, who represent a large proportion of world population. They should be equipped with information and skills to improve their ability to adapt to climate change and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. They should not only be recipients of support, but also part of the solution, added Mr. Mohamed Abdel-Ahad.

As part of the launching ceremony, a round table discussion was organized and presentations of research papers on related topics were made by selected researchers.

Daw Yupar Mya, Assistant Director, Department of Social Welfare, presented the findings of an assessment on women's protection issues undertaken in selected townships in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The study should that , “15.6 per cent of heads of households were women, 4.2 per cent of respondents were illiterate, and most of them are women, and only 4.0 per cent of women  had obtained a university degree”. The assessment indicated that 88.6 per cent of the total households were single families, with 11.4 per cent of homes or shelters shared by more than one family, added Daw Yupar Mya. Some of the findings indicate that there is a need to empower women economically and legally through investments in education, health and access to credit, skill development and income generating activities and a review of legislation to ensure gender equality.

Prof. Swe Thwin, Director, Mingalar Myanmar, presented a research paper on population dynamics that dealt with the way populations are affected by birth and death rates, immigration and emigration, aging populations and fertility decline. It was found that the growth of population has been exponential in the past, but declined due to environmental pressures. The natural growth of population continuously presents problems for the preservation of the environment, and adequate policies and measures should be adopted, as appropriate, to face these problems. Daw Tin Mar Htay, University of Yangon, presented the findings of a research paper on changing monsoon climatology in Myanmar. She added, “The climate change phenomenon in Myanmar has been observed by several investigators and climate researchers during the last decade.”

The round table concluded that “as much as the world needs to develop green technology, there is a need to address the human angle of climate change. This should be done through investments in health, education, livelihoods and other social services which would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders from Government, civil society, the UN and the donor community”.