With the world’s population predicted to reach 7 billion by the end of the month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released the State of World Population 2011 report yesterday. UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin stated, “our work is far from done. Consider that there are 215 million women of childbearing age in developing countries who lack access to voluntary family planning. There are millions of adolescent girls and boys in the developing world who have too little access to sexuality education and information about how to prevent pregnancies or protect themselves from HIV. In pockets of the world where women’s status is low, infant and child survival are also low. And we must tear down economic, legal and social barriers, to put women and men and boys and girls on an equal footing in all spheres of life.”
Since 1950, the world’s population has grown from 2.5 billion people to 7 billion, and since 1987, when the first World Population Day took place, the world’s population has grown by approximately 40 percent. According to Susan Cohen, director of government affairs at the Guttmacher Institute, the population will increase to over 9 billion by the middle of the century if the current rate of growth continues. Cohen writes, “To a large extent, however, these macro-level dilemmas reflect a micro-level problem about which there is a universal consensus and where the solution is relatively straightforward. Millions of women and couples, especially in the developing world, are still unable to control for themselves the timing, spacing and total number of their children.”
The UNFPA indicates that “all of this population growth – 97 of every 100 people – is occurring in less developed countries” and approximately 215 million women who want access to birth control lack access to family planning in developing nations.