UN population prize awarded to Iranian demographer and African institute

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9 March 2011 – An Iranian demographer who focuses on development and reproductive health and an African research institution which provides training in the field of sexual health and gender issues today won this year’s United Nations Population Award.

Established by the General Assembly in 1981, the Award is given annually to individuals and institutions for outstanding contributions to population concerns and their solutions – this year to Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Chairman of the Division of Population Research at the University of Tehran, and the Cameroon-based L’Institut de Formation et de Recherche Démographique (IFORD).

Mr. Abbasi-Shavazi has a long career in teaching, demographic research and advisory and policy services, focusing on population and development, reproductive health and fertility, immigration and refugees. He has contributed to the understanding of the dynamics of Iran’s fertility decline, which showed that improving women’s education and status and their access to reproductive health care led to smaller family sizes.

He has promoted the view that social, economic and cultural differences among countries are more important than religion as explanations of fertility differentials, and has also been a bridge between international demographers and Iranian scholars to study the rapid Iranian fertility decline.

IFORD, established in 1972, has been a leading institution for training, research and technical assistance in the field of population, serving 26 countries in Africa and the Indian Ocean. Its mandate focuses on offering technical support and training to African teams in the field of population and development, and on conducting research relevant to the understanding of African population issues.

The institute has a continuous programme of research in sexual and reproductive health, gender and demographic issues, migration, and the linkages between population, the environment and development. It assists African countries in conducting population censuses, establishing local research activities, providing local training, creating and managing databases, and formulating and evaluating population policies. It has so far trained more than 500 African demographers.

The Award Committee, chaired by Egypt’s UN Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, consists of 10 Member States, with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) as its secretariat. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elects Committee members for three-year terms – currently Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Norway and Tanzania.

The award is scheduled to be presented on 16 June at a ceremony at the UN.

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