1.4 Rationale and Structure of the Proposed Content

As will be described in further detail later, the contents of the Manual are conceived as a cumulative process of gathering evidence, arguments and messages aimed at action, from the general to the specific. It starts from an analysis of the more aggregate changes at the level of population issues and SRH, where it identifies the most relevant challenges or problems. It then moves on to a more detailed analysis of the demographic or SRH-related manifestations of social inequality, making it possible to identify the social gaps that are caused by unequal exercise of rights. The analytical part culminates in the analysis of the relationships and impacts between population dynamics and social and economic phenomena and operational conclusions, from which implications for public policies are deduced. Based on these analyses, framed in the economic, socio-cultural, political and institutional context of every country, it finally shows the challenges, opportunities and priorities faced by the country in the field of population and development, SRH, gender, and human rights.

The Manual encourages countries to structure the PSA as a compact but comprehensive document, with executive summary and brief appendices. The body of the PSA document is divided into an introduction (Chapter I), which offers a general overview of the objectives of the document and a conceptual framework which underpins it, followed by five chapters. The first of these chapters (numbered as II) contains a review of population dynamics and the potentialities or constraints imposed by the national context. As such, it includes a global analysis of the country with regard to the most important aggregate characteristics of the demographic transition, as well as the economic, socio-cultural, political, and institutional context. Additionally, it shows where the country stands with respect to its international commitments, with an emphasis on the MDGs and the ICPD. This chapter serves as a background for the more detailed analysis of demographic trends and SRH that follows.

Chapter III identifies more specifically the main characteristics of the population processes and the main challenges or problems confronted by the country in these areas. This considers all population behaviours. However, the emphasis placed on each category of behaviour will be determined by the importance that it has in the country, according to the stage of the demographic, epidemiological, and urban transition, as well as the availability of information.

Chapter IV shows the relevance of socio-demographic manifestations of inequalities and poverty (including those that should be characterized as inequities) and the fact that these persist despite advances in the demographic transition. Given that the aggregate indicators at the national level are not necessarily representative of conditions experienced by the different social groups within the countries, one should provide a detailed overview of inequality by socio-economic, territorial, age-related,
ethnic, and gender groups, that demonstrate existing diversity. The objective is to amass evidence based on disaggregated indicators that make it possible to show inequalities related to population dynamics (reproduction, survival, sex, age, and habitat) and SRH, as an important component of overall social inequalities.

Chapter V studies the relationships between the components of population dynamics, reproduction, and gender, and their implications for public policies, from a perspective that highlights the need to reduce poverty and inequality and to extend capacities and protection of the rights of the most disadvantaged or marginalized groups of the population, as basic requirements for overcoming poverty.

Based on the aforementioned considerations, one should focus on those contributions which can be made from the perspective of the population and SRH so as to achieve goals for reducing inequality, poverty, the growth of human capital and other issues relevant to the development agenda. For this purpose, it is necessary to present evidence of pertinent explanatory factors, both to analyze the problems and to identify possible policy responses, and that findings are presented in such a way that they are considered relevant for the actors responsible for the social and economic development agenda and not only for those partners that are involved in sectoral issues.

Chapter VI presents the challenges that the country must face, in the light of the results of the study, while at the same time it shows the opportunities presented by this scenario. This is done in the context of the MDG agenda, in particular by showing the connections between the central targets of UNFPA’s mandate, such as MDGs 3 and 5.B, and the more general development objectives reflected in MDGs 1, 2, and 7. In addition to a summary and conclusions with the main findings (conceptual and empirical evidence), Chapter VI includes scenarios with recommendations for public policies directed at tackling key priorities with regard to population, SRH, and gender in the country, which try to show the benefits of timely action and the risks and costs of inaction or delayed responses. Finally, appendices may be included, to the extent that are considered relevant.