Empowering Girls This World Population Day

Empowering Girls This World Population Day

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World Population Day 2016

At our current population growth rate, we will number around 9.5 billion by 2050 and will occupy basically every conceivable and habitable space in the planet [1], which is hardly sustainable or healthy for both the planet and us. Hence, in 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that the international community observe July 11 as World Population Day – a day that highlights the urgency and importance of population issues. The overall theme this year is “Investing in Teenage Girls” [2].

The theme highlights the importance of investing in teenage girls – empowering them, providing them a number of opportunities, and even access to basic information regarding their health, human and reproductive rights. Based on the numbers we have stated above, a number of girls around the world do not even have access to this basic information, making them more vulnerable to illness and even exploitation.

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Why do we need to talk about this?

This issue involves all of us because we only have one Earth, and to date, the number of people living on our planet is 7.2 billion people – and this is increasing by 115,000 to 200,000 people everyday [3]. So that means, billions of people are partaking in the Earth’s finite resources. But the question is, can the Earth support all of us? Here are a few facts you need to know about our planet and why the number of people living on it matters:


 

Why We Need to Invest in Teenage Girls

All individuals have the basic right to freely determine the number and timing of their children, which basically means that everyone has the freedom to determine when they would start a family, and the number and timing of their children. Sounds just about right in today’s modern world right? But sadly, millions of girls around the world, are still not fully exercising this basic human right:

  • More than 700 million women alive today were married as children – or when they were less than 18 years of age. 1 of 3 of these women (or approximately 250 million) was married before the age of 15. The parents and even communities of these teens considered them as ready for marriage and motherhood [4].
  • Around 830 women die everyday from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. It must also be noted that young adolescents face a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications and death compared to other women [5].
  • Millions of women around the world have an unmet need for family planning. These are women who are sexually active but are not using any form of contraception, but at the same time, they admit wanting to delay the next child or even not wanting more children. Hence, the term “unmet” points to this gap between their reproductive intentions and contraceptive behavior [6].

Yet, with the right resources and support, these girls can be empowered to make the right decisions for their health and lives.

 

What can we do about it?

These women may live in communities and countries different from ours, but this does not mean that we cannot do something about it. And yes, we may still not feel the effects of overpopulation today, but there is no guarantee that this will still hold true after a number of years.

The good news is all of us can do something about it. Here are a few ways how to do so:

  1. Promote smart family planning in your own community, including advocating for the universal access to safe and effective contraceptive options for all.
  2. Empower women to take control of their lives: promote gender equality in terms of education, work opportunities, and health benefits.
  3. Educate everyone about overpopulation and its effects.

Here are several sites that offer relevant resources and publications related to family planning and overpopulation:

  1. UNFPA
  2. WHO
  3. Healthy People
  4. Overpopulation Org

Donations and volunteers are welcome at these organizations - whose advocacies include family planning, women’s health, and overpopulation:

  1. Gates Foundation
  2. World Vision
  3. PCI Global
  4. Clinton Foundation
  5. Asia Foundation
  6. Culture Change Org
  7. 7 Billion and Counting

Here are communities and organizations whose main goal is to empower women:

  1. Empower Women
  2. Womens Empowerment Foundation

 

Sources:

  1. http://worldpopulationhistory.org/map/1/mercator/1/0/25/
  2. http://www.unfpa.org/events/world-population-day
  3. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
  4. http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
  5. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/
  6. http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/family_planning/unmet_need_fp/en/