July 11 is World Population Day marked every year since 1989 and established that year by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program. Every day we read about droughts, floods, fires, starvation, climate change, conflicts over resources especially water, conflicts over religion, refugees fleeing misery and violence including gender based violence and on and on. It is going to get worse.
The theme of this year’s WPD is “Family Planning is a Human Right”. It should be universally accessible, safe, and offered in an atmosphere of privacy and confidentiality. Millions of people lack access. Millions of women are disempowered in this area of their lives. Many young girls are forced to marry when their bodies are not mature enough for healthy pregnancies. They can suffer severe injury and even death.
According to the U.N. World Population Clock human numbers as of July 2018 reached 7.6 billion with predictions of another billion added every 14 years. This is not good. The conditions we see now are going to be exacerbated by a large influx of young people who, in countries such as in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and sub-Sharan Africa will all want an education and chances for a decent life. Hopelessness can breed extremism and nihilism.
Education and health for boys and girls, men and women are the underpinnings of any decent society. Educated healthy people make good choices. Let’s think about this and take steps to encourage our own government to support family planning both here and throughout the world. This is good public policy both for the world and for us. If you are so moved, and an American, please join 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund. www.34millionfriends.org