Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has asked the health minister during a Cabinet meeting to review the state’s efforts to provide all forms of contraception to women free of charge in order to curb the rate of population growth.
Madbouly also called for establishing a program to employ women in governorates with high population growth, as work can be a “strong incentive” for them to implement family planning, according to a statement published by the Cabinet.
Concerning education, Madbouly said that there is a need to put in place curricula for young students to raise awareness about issues related to family planning.
The PM also instructed officials to accelerate efforts to prepare legislation to promote family planning, noting that he would communicate with parliament to discuss the relevant draft laws as soon as possible.
The meeting was also attended by Minister of Planning Hala El-Saeed, Minister of State for Information Osama Heikal, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of Social Solidarity Nevin Al-Qabbaj, as well as head of the National Council for Women Maya Morsy.
According to the Cabinet statement, the state’s family planning vision involves legislation to determine the minimum age of marriage, criminalise the marriage of female minors, and toughen penalties against child marriage and child labour.
The legislations would also mandate establishing family planning clinics in all hospitals, including private hospitals and maternity hospitals, as well as requiring those who intend to marry to take family counselling sessions.
The plan also suggests training for Muslim and Christian religious leaders and preachers so they can spread awareness about the population issue and family planning.
Accordingly, a sermon on issues related to population will be given once a month at the weekly Friday prayers of Muslims and Christian Sunday sermons, the statement added.
The meeting comes a few weeks after Madbouly stressed the need for population control, highlighting that a baby is born in Egypt every 13.5 seconds, and that the annual increase in population in the country has now become equivalent to that of Italy, France, Spain, UK, Sweden and Belgium combined.
In 1950, 19 million people inhabited 3.5-4 percent of Egypt’s landmass, Madbouly said, noting that the country should have increased its inhabited areas to 18 percent by now to cope with the 400 percent increase in population.
He added that despite all efforts to expand this inhabited area, the population currently inhabits only 7 percent of the country’s landmass.