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“We need to put special emphasis on taking advantage of the demographic dividend as the basis for policies to boost investment and social protection. Most importantly, we must fast track women’s entry into the labour market and find ways to reconcile work and family responsibilities,” Dlamini said.
Leaders and delegates from the five nations had assembled in Mpumalanga in South Africa to attend the first BRICS Seminar on Population Matters, which highlighted common population challenges for the emerging economies. The three day BRICS meet ends on Monday.
BRICS account for 43 per cent of the world’s population, around 18 per cent of GDP and 40 per cent of currency reserves, estimated at around $1 trillion.
“There is a greater need for BRICS Member States to commit to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to systematically consider population trends and projections to national (rural and urban) development strategies and policies,” Dlamini said.
BRICS share similar demographic challenges, including migration, declining fertility rates, rising life expectancy, ageing population and changes in production and consumption patterns.
A new international report published last week says Indian and Chinese agricultural population grew by a whopping 50 per cent and 33 per cent respectively between 1980 and 2011 while Africa’s grew by 63 per cent.
Meanwhile, the BRICS meet in Mpumalanga also highlighted the challenges BRICS face in women’s economic empowerment, political leadership and participation in decision-making.
There are large inequalities in access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, discrimination and social exclusion of migrants, minorities and other disadvantaged groups, analysis unveiled at the meet said.
South Africa also underlined the need to strengthen agencies responsible for population and development in BRICS countries.
“While most BRICS Member States have an official agency for this purpose, more often than not those agencies have limited resources, capacities and little influence on policy matters,” the Minister said.
“The analysis shows that societies can prosper under conditions of slow or no population growth. This can be achieved if countries are able to invest heavily in people’s education, health and employment opportunities independently of gender, age and origin,” Dlamini said.