World Population Day
“A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all – Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all”
The world had 7 billion people. This year, it is expected that the population will rise to 8 billion, which will trigger the corresponding reactions. Some will marvel at the advancements in health that have extended lifespans, reduced maternal mortality and child mortality have led to the development of vaccines at record speed. Others will highlight the technological advances that have improved our lives and made us more connected more than ever before. Others will announce advancements in gender parity.
But the progress isn’t always all-encompassing and can throw the gap between rich and poor into sharp relief. Women still die in the birth of their children. Gender gaps remain entrenched. The digital divide has left women, and women in developing nations offline. In recent years, COVID-19 vaccinations are not distributed evenly. The same issues and issues which were raised eleven years ago persist or are getting worse in the last year: Climate change and violence, as well as discrimination. The world crossed an alarming milestone in the month of May when there were more than 100 million people were forced to flee their homes across the globe.
There will also be those who claim that the world is in danger of either a devastating overpopulation crisis or a catastrophic collapse of the population. Both sides will likely demand measures to limit or stimulate the growth of the population. However, the process of engineering population numbers is not a proven success previously. Instead, it serves to diminish the rights of people and reproductive rights when women are being forced to carry more or fewer children at their own will or simply because they lack access to information and services that can help them make this decision, which is against the International Conference of Population and Development Programme of Action.
In the first instance in the history of the world, we are witnessing extreme variation in the mean age of nations and fertility rates of the populations. While the population of a rising number of nations is getting older and 60% of the world’s population lives in countries that have a fertility rate below replacement which is 2.1 women per child, other nations have large populations of young people and continue to grow at a rapid pace.
However, the emphasis should be on the people and not on the number of people. People being reduced to numbers robs the human element from them. Instead of making numbers work for the systems create systems that work to benefit the numbers through promoting the wellbeing and health of individuals.
As per to United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “Even even though the rate of population growth worldwide is expected to slow in the near future, however, the global population is expected to be between 20-30 percent more than it was in 2020. Accurate estimates of the trends in population and reliable predictions of the future in the number of populations as well as their distribution according to sex, age, and geographic locations, are essential for the formulation of policies and their implementation, as well as to assist countries on an appropriate path towards sustainable growth.”
For instance, if fertility is decreasing does it mean that prospective parents are worried about what they can do to be able to provide for their family, how they can find an affordable living space, or how taking pregnancy could impact the career of a mother? If fertility is increasing and is this due to decisions or because women do not have the knowledge or access to modern contraceptives? Making sure that all women are included in the count can help governments better evaluate the needs of an evolving population, and to chart a better route to address the needs of the resilience of the population.
In a perfect world, 8 billion people mean 8 billion possibilities for healthier societies governed by the law and choice. However, the playing field isn’t and never has been. Based on race, gender and class and religion gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, national origin, and many other aspects there are many who are subject to harassment, discrimination, and violence. We are doing ourselves no favors by neglecting the people who are left in the dust.
Don’t let the headlines of alarmists distract you from the task at hand by investing in the human and physical capital to create sustainable, inclusive societies that respect human rights and reproductive rights. Only then will we be able to tackle the huge challenges facing our planet, and build a world in which health, as well as dignity and education, are both rights and reality rather than merely empty promises. On a planet of 8 billion people, there is always room for possibilities.