International Community Should Invest More In Women’s, Girls’ Reproductive Health, Rights To Help Address Challenges Of Population Growth

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Want to ward off the apocalypse? Invest in women’s health and rights
Kathleen Mogelgaard, consultant on climate change, population dynamics, and reproductive health and rights, and Robert Engelman, former president of the Worldwatch Institute; both senior fellows with the Population Institute

“…The latest U.N. projections, released [last] week, indicate that we will add another 2 billion people to the planet by 2050 and 3 billion by the end of the century. … In releasing the projections, U.N. demographers point out that such rapid growth can pose challenges for efforts to eradicate poverty, end hunger, provide health care and education to all, and arrest environmental degradation. … Small, unanticipated changes in fertility could radically alter the projections. … Certainly, a world of 9.4 billion offers greater chances of addressing the many challenges humanity faces than a world of 12.7 billion. And greater investment in the health and rights of women around the world can help get us there. We know that socioeconomic improvements — such as reductions in child mortality and increased urbanization — can lead to declines in fertility, but the empowerment of women is key. Investing more in the education of girls and improving job prospects for women is crucial. Equally important is access to contraception and reproductive health care, without which even empowered women experience high levels of unintended pregnancy. … Far from controlling women’s reproduction, we need to promote their reproductive freedom. … When we invest in [women’s and girls’] well-being, health, and capacity to make their own choices about childbearing, a brighter future is possible for all” (6/21).

Los Angeles Times: Foreign aid for family planning works. So why don’t we do more of it?
Malcolm Potts and Alisha Graves, co-founders of OASIS (Organizing to Advance Solutions in the Sahel) at U.C. Berkeley

“…The report also points out that if families the world over had, on average, one-half fewer children going forward, the population by century’s end would have begun to decline, to about 7.3 billion. Conversely, if families have, on average, one-half child more, the population would reach 15.6 billion by the end of 2099. The huge difference that a half-child average makes could well determine whether our children and grandchildren live in a sustainable world, or one that is in danger of collapse as population pressure destroys the complex biosphere on which all life depends. … [O]nly 1% of all overseas development aid is spent on family planning, although it is one of the most cost-effective forms of foreign aid. A drop in family size facilitates better education, reduces maternal and infant mortality, facilitates economic development, and sets the stage for more democratic government. Family planning is an investment: It pays for itself by reducing the cost of education and health services in a poor country with rapid population growth. … An important first step would be for the international community to move from investing 1% of foreign aid in family planning to investing 2% in it. … [W]e believe that increasing aid in international family planning could make that half-child difference” (6/23).

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