It took 200,000 years for the earth’s population to reach 1 billion people back in 1804. Now, estimations indicate that we will break the 7 billion mark this year–just 207 years later. We have added 6 billion people to our planet in a blink of the earth’s history.
Today, on World Population Day, we have 7 billion reasons to pay attention, and care, about the effects growing populations have on our communities, the environment, the availability of natural resources and most importantly, the health and wellbeing of women, children, and their families.
The impact of population is perhaps most keenly felt in areas of great need—where there are already strains on natural resources, few accessible health facilities, and environmental challenges. For instance, in a country like Bangladesh that already faces flooding challenges, an increase in population puts increased demands on accessible, arable land.
So what can we do to help? One of the best investments is family planning. Supporting available contraceptives and family planning options supports the rights of women, the health of families, and the wellbeing of our natural environments.
“Investing in family planning is cost-effective and essential to solving many health and development issues,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said. “When an individual or a couple has the ability to choose the timing and spacing of their children, they are better equipped to provide for their family’s well-being.”
Focusing on family planning can help:
- Reduce poverty and inequality. By having fewer children, families can keep more children in school, have larger incomes, and achieve higher levels of education.
- Empower women and girls. When women can choose when and how often to have children, they have more opportunities to pursue education, careers, financial security and more.
- Improve maternal and child health. With fewer pregnancies, women are healthier and in turn, there are fewer maternal and infant deaths.
- Meet the needs of youth. With more than half the world’s population under 25, the needs of youth to delay pregnancy and childbirth, stay in school, and start careers, are more important than ever.
- Protect the environment. By slowing population growth through planned families, there will be fewer demands on key resources—particularly in vulnerable areas of the world.
USAID and myriad nonprofit organizations like Pathfinder International, Population Action International, Americans for UNFPA and many more, are raising awareness about this critical issue today through social media. Here are three specific actions you can take to show your support for family planning this World Population Day:
- Tweet a link to this post and tell your friends why you believe family planning is important (make sure and use #7Billion in your post)
- Contact your representative and tell him/her to support funding for UNFPA (which is currently at risk through Congressional measure to defund it)
- Share a video about the importance of family planning (see video below)
Together, by taking action, we can all make a difference.