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Prioritize addressing Population Growth and Women’s Rights at the 57th Commission on Population & Development

Apr 18, 2024

As we stand on the brink of the 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development, it’s crucial to recognize the pivotal role that addressing population growth and ensuring the full rights of women and girls play in achieving global sustainability. From Earth overshoot to climate change, poverty, conflict, oppression, scarcity of resources and biodiversity loss, the interconnectedness of these issues underscores the urgency for comprehensive action. 

The Interconnection of Global Challenges 

Earth overshoot, marked by humanity’s consumption of natural resources exceeding the planet’s capacity to regenerate them, is a stark reminder of the unsustainable trajectory of our current population growth. Each year, we deplete vital resources, exacerbate environmental degradation, and contribute to the looming threat of climate change. 

However, at the heart of this challenge lies the issue of population growth and the need to address it sustainably. It’s not merely about the number of people on Earth but also the quality of life, equitable access to resources, and the empowerment of women and girls. By overlooking the nexus between population dynamics and sustainability, we risk perpetuating inequality, exacerbating poverty, and compromising the well-being of future generations. 

Advocating for Population Stabilization and Women’s Rights 

As we prepare for the 57th session of the Commission on Population and Development, it’s imperative to advocate for policies and initiatives that prioritize population stabilization and uphold the full rights of women and girls. This entails: 

Ending Child Marriage Must Be a Priority  

Child marriage remains a pressing global issue, violating the rights of girls and entrenching cycles of poverty and inequality. To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and end child marriage by 2030, immediate and comprehensive action is imperative. Current trends underscore the urgency, indicating that a 20-fold increase in the rate of decline is necessary. This emphasizes the critical need for interventions that address the root causes of child marriage, including poverty, lack of education, and gender inequality, on a global scale. 

Eliminating child marriage globally requires concerted efforts to empower girls, provide access to education and healthcare, and challenge harmful cultural norms and practices. By prioritizing the rights and well-being of girls, we can break the cycle of poverty and inequality, fostering a world where every child has the opportunity to thrive and fulfill their potential. Together, we must commit to ending child marriage and creating a future where all children can live free from exploitation and discrimination. 

Child marriage not only affects the lives of individual girls but also has significant implications for population growth. When girls are married off at a young age, they are often forced into early childbearing, leading to higher fertility rates and rapid population growth in affected communities. Moreover, child brides are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth, contributing to maternal and infant mortality rates. By addressing child marriage and enabling girls to delay marriage and childbirth, we can promote smaller, healthier families and contribute to sustainable population management. Thus, tackling child marriage is not only a matter of human rights but also crucial for achieving long-term demographic stability and sustainable development. 

The Role of the United Nations and the Commission on Population and Development 

Through the Commission on Population and Development, The United Nations has a unique opportunity to champion these critical issues on the global stage. By prioritizing population stabilization and women’s rights in its agenda, the Commission can catalyze action across sectors and foster international cooperation towards achieving sustainable development goals. 

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem’s urgent call resonates across the globe: “Pregnant women and new mothers need urgent help now.” This plea extends beyond borders, encompassing all women and girls, regardless of their geographic location or socio-economic status. From Sudan to the United States, Mexico to Gaza, and every country in between, the need for assistance is pressing. The entire Earth is in need, and our collective future depends on acting with urgency now. It is imperative that we prioritize the well-being and rights of women and girls worldwide, ensuring access to essential healthcare services, support, and resources. Only through concerted and immediate action can we fulfill our obligation to safeguard the health and dignity of every individual, laying the groundwork for a more equitable and sustainable world. 

Countries in the global North, including the United States, have a responsibility to increase funding for sexual and reproductive health programs in the global South. Investing in these programs is not only a matter of promoting health and well-being but also of advancing human rights and sustainable development. Specifically, supporting initiatives that focus on social and behavioral change communication, such as the work of Population Media Center (PMC), is critical.  

PMC’s innovative approach harnesses the power of storytelling through various media platforms to address social norms and cultural practices that perpetuate harmful behaviors like child marriage and early pregnancy. By scaling up funding for organizations like PMC, countries in the global North can help catalyze positive change, empower women and girls, and contribute to building healthier and more resilient communities worldwide. This investment not only saves lives but also yields long-term benefits, including reduced poverty, improved gender equality, and enhanced global stability. 

As we approach the 57th session, let us rally behind the call for population stabilization and the full realization of women’s and girls’ rights. Together, we can pave the way towards a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for all. The time to act is now, and the Commission on Population and Development must seize this opportunity to lead the way towards a brighter tomorrow. 

We Make Shows That Remake Our World

We’re raising global sustainability through community empowerment on the most human level—by telling transformative stories. At Population Media Center (PMC), we are proud to stand at the forefront of initiatives that empower women and challenge societal norms. Our work spans over two decades, dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and girls across the globe.

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