An ad and a postal stamp! celebrating the world population day

Author: Durr-e-Nayab
Publication Year : 2021

This year’s July 11 was no different from the previous years’. It is the date we go through our token actions and words to commemorate the World Population Day. Thanks to the social distancing and ‘stay at home’ directives this year, we were spared of the annual ‘Population March’. July is a hot and humid month anyway, and marching for something with such an unclear agenda is doubly unpleasant. Just so that I do not miss the day and all the things that annoy me about it, the morning paper had an advertisement that acted as a good reminder for me. Yes, I am very old-fashioned and still get the paper version of the newspapers! Coming back to the ad, it was one by the Punjab Population Innovation Fund (PPIF), a Punjab Government organisation. To mark the day, the PPIF in collaboration with the University of Health Sciences (UHS) announced launching a helpline to deal with maternal and child health and family planning, with female doctors attending all calls. Among other things, the consultation services provided include family planning counselling,noncommunicable diseases, hygiene practices, basic medical advice, nutrition and referral services. Very noble indeed! But don’t men need any of these services? And especially, is the burden of family planning only on women? Iam yet to see any advertisement, by any government (federal or provincial) or organisation, that talk about such issues targeting the male population. Isn’t child’s health father’s responsibility too? Aren’t we strengthening the gender stereotypes with such ads? Don’t males have ‘reproductive health’? Why is population, and the Population Day, only linked to women and that too with a family planning focus? ‘Family planning’ too is a misnomer here. What we mean in all these advertisements is family limitation. Maybe if we actually start planning families, the limitation part would follow by itself.