World Population Awareness

News Digest

September 08, 2018

Family Planning and Religion: How Clerics See it

May 17, 2015, Guardian Nigeria, The   By: Chris Irekamba and Kenechukwu Ezeonyejiaku

After the biblical verse in Genesis 1:28 where God says,"Go and multiply and have many children..."

it is agreed by many that the present global and social situation dictates that couples have fewer children so that together with their children, they can enjoy high quality living.

Do clerics endorse the idea of couples embracing family planning?

Rev. Fr. Joseph Jwanua says family planning is advisable. God has given us the wisdom to know how to manage our resources. How can you responsibly have a family of eleven when you can only afford two? There is a natural way of knowing when your wife is likely to conceive and you avoid that period, if you don't want unwanted pregnancy.

Evangelist (Mrs.) Elishama Ideh - If you have a child this year, then maybe you space out another child.

Prof. Dawud O.S. Noibi - Family planning is permissible in Islam. While it does say to have many children, it also tell us not to undertake anything that is beyond out ability to see through.

Rev. (Mrs.) Olayemi T. Aderibigbe - With family planning, some people are aware of their ovulation period and know when conception is possible, and can avoid having sexual relations during that period. doclink

'Historic' Ruling States That Abstinence-only Sex Ed Isn't Sex Ed

May 13, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-ressler

A Fresno County Superior Court judge in California has ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state's comprehensive sex ed requirements.

With high rates of STI's and pregnancies in the U.S., medically accurate sexual health information is "an important public right," he said.

California schools have been prohibited since 2003 from providing sex ed courses that contain medically inaccurate or biased information.

While the decision only applies to about 40,000 students in the Clovis Unified School District, the judge's opinion represents the first-ever ruling on California's decade-old sex education standards, and the ACLU believes it sets an important precedent for the rest of the state.

"This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate," said Phyllida Burlingame, director of reproductive justice policy at the ACLU,

Clovis was using a textbook that said all adults should abstain from sexual activity until marriage, and left out any information about preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Clovis also partnered with outside groups - including a crisis pregnancy center that disseminates inaccurate information about the risks of abortion, despite the fact that those groups aren't qualified to teach comprehensive sex ed.

Plaintiffs alleged that the district was showing students abstinence-focused videos that contained "egregiously inaccurate and biased information," like comparing a woman who has engaged in sex to a dirty shoe, and suggesting that men are physically unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused. One video, entitled Never Regret The Choice, suggested that homosexuality doesn't exist by encouraging students to adopt the mantra, "One man, one woman, one life."

A large body of scientific research has shown that abstinence-only curricula are ineffective at convincing students to delay sex, and don't prepare them to safeguard their sexual health.

Recently, Congress appropriated $25 million for the very same type of abstinence education programs that the judge ruled against. doclink

Multipurpose Prevention Technologies for the Developing World: U.S. Investment is Critical

Guttmacher Institute   By: Heather D. Boonstra

There is a compelling need for new technologies that protect sexually active women against multiple sexual and reproductive health risks, especially in countries heavily burdened by HIV and by maternal and infant mortality.

Over the past 50 years, U.S. government investments in research and innovation have played a major role in improving the lives of women, children and families worldwide. Investments in sexual and reproductive health technologies, including contraceptives, vaccines, diagnostic tools and therapies, enable women and couples to have the number of children they want, when they want them; to deliver their babies safely and have healthy newborns; and to have healthy sexual lives.

Despite these remarkable gains, there is still much work to be done to provide essential health services to the poorest and most vulnerable people. Far too many women continue to have unintended pregnancies, STIs and pregnancy-related complications that could have been prevented.

In the face of these health challenges, the global community has been working toward better linkages between different types of sexual and reproductive health services in the developing world. As awareness of the need for linked services has increased, the need for new technologies that combine protection against unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs has become a research priority.

This drive-to develop new multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs)-is now a rising priority on the health agenda of many of the leading government agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide; however, experts believe that these products may never reach the market without robust U.S. investment and intensified collaboration between government and the private sector. The U.S. government is the world's largest funder of global health research and development, and this leadership will be critical in pioneering and advancing MPTs.

Women who are sexually active may be exposed to multiple health risks, including unintended pregnancy, pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications, HIV and other STIs. The use of modern contraceptive methods has risen greatly in developing regions, from negligible levels 50 years ago to 57% among married women aged 15-49 in 2014.1 And yet, the level of unmet need for modern contraception is remarkable: An estimated 225 million women-or one in four of those living in developing regions who are at risk of pregnancy but want to delay or avoid having a child-are not using a modern contraceptive method.

An unplanned pregnancy can be an emotionally wrenching experience for any woman. In absolute numbers, an estimated 74 million women in the developing world experience an unintended pregnancy each year. These unintended pregnancies result in an estimated 28 million unplanned births, 36 million abortions (20 million of which are unsafe), eight million miscarriages and nearly one million stillbirths.

In many regions of the world, women of reproductive age are also at high risk of HIV. An estimated 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide,14 million of whom are women aged 15-49 in developing regions. Young women have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic: In Sub-Saharan Africa, 71% of all new infections among 15-19-year-olds are among women.2 HIV prevalence among adolescent women is two times that of their male peers across the region.

In many of the world's poorest countries, these health challenges are not independent problems. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where 12 million women aged 15-49 are living with HIV, millions of women lack essential sexual and reproductive health services. More than four in 10 reproductive-age women in the region want to avoid a pregnancy;4 however, more than half of these women-55 million-are not using an effective contraceptive method.

Condoms (both male and female) are currently the only methods that protect against both unintended pregnancy and STIs; however, for many men and women, condoms are less than ideal. One disadvantage to condoms is that women have to negotiate use with their partner. Even the female condom, which has been hailed as a female-initiated method, requires a woman to obtain her partner's cooperation to use it. In many societies, especially those with an unequal gender power balance, women are simply unable to control when condoms are used.

Condoms have other drawbacks as well. They are not an option for women who want to become pregnant while protecting themselves against infection. Moreover, men and women worldwide report having issues with the fit and feel of male and female condoms, and that condoms interfere with sexual pleasure and are a barrier to intimacy and trust. Although condoms may be seen as acceptable and even necessary in the early stages of a relationship, they are often abandoned over time as intimacy between a couple grows. This, too, can make it difficult for women to discuss condom use with their long-term partner without raising suspicions of infidelity.

While more should be done to increase access to condoms, scientists and advocates have long argued that new and especially female-controlled means of prevention are desperately needed.

An analysis by the Guttmacher Institute found that women in developing countries have unmet need for contraception because they lack access to supplies and services, but that is only one of the many reasons women give for not using a method. Women also frequently report nonuse because they are concerned about health risks or side effects, have sex infrequently (and, therefore, believe themselves unlikely to become pregnant) or have a partner who is opposed to contraceptive use.

One goal, therefore, is that MPTs would cause few or no systemic side effects. Another goal would involve having a suite of products to meet the differing needs of different women: Some could be used on-demand, around the time of sex, which may appeal to women who have sex infrequently; others could be long-acting for women who would rather not worry about remembering to use a method each time. MPTs would be within a woman's personal control and have the potential to be used without her partner's permission or knowledge. And most MPTs in development have the advantage over condoms of allowing for direct physical contact-and some may even enhance sexual pleasure.

USAID investments have contributed to the development of more than a dozen contraceptives on the market today, including copper and hormonal IUDs, implants, injectables, and new vasectomy and female sterilization techniques that have increased safety and accessibility worldwide.

In 2009, CAMI Health, a project of the Public Health Institute, founded the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies to catalyze the field by bringing together scientists, product developers and advocacy groups on a regular basis to advance the MPT agenda. The initiative aims to promote collaboration across a broad cross-section of organizations and experts from around the world. These include agencies such as USAID, NIH, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Fund; foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; research entities such as CONRAD, International Partnership for Microbicides, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Population Council; and NGOs.

As one of its first priorities, the initiative led an assessment of the leading MPT products in development and prioritized the most promising candidates. It has also been working to galvanize political support for MPT research, with hope that this will eventually result in a significant infusion of new funding for MPT product development.

Imagine the impact on a woman's life if she could use one product that simultaneously prevented unintended pregnancy and disease. MPTs would be a true game-changer." doclink

Why Two Plasters Give Me Hope for the Future

From schoolgirls in Sierra Leone to mothers in Bolivia, women are showing what they can achieve if they are given the opportunity to thrive
November 1, 2016, Huffington Post   By: Claire Morris

Sierra Leone, one of the world's poorest nations, has the highest maternal mortality. But change is on the way. Two arm bandages may not look all that cool, but young girls in this rural clinic display them proudly. They want to postpone having children so they can finish their studies and start a career, and the bandages are the only sign of the contraceptive implant they have queued up to get.

Raised in the UK, I learned in school about sexual and reproductive health in a non-judgmental way. This empowered me as a teenager to make good choices. I could access contraception when I needed it, knowing that I had exactly the same right as boys to study and work in the way I wanted. Many young girls don't have those options. Faced with early marriage and pregnancy, they are first to drop out of school. Nearly one in five adolescent girls in low or middle-income nations gets pregnant by age 17.

As a long-serving team member and now a trustee of the Marie Stopes International (MSI) family planning NGO, I have seen first-hand the transformative effect that contraception can have. For over 40 years, from Bangladesh to Zambia, MSI has been helping nations expand their sexual and reproductive health services. Contraception has become more available and, in some countries at least, legal restrictions to safe abortion have started to ease. Today six out of ten married women in the developing world use contraception, up from around one in ten in 1960. This has helped contribute to a much lower percentage of women who die in pregnancy.

From the girls in Sierra Leone excited about their future, to a woman in Zimbabwe who had walked for five hours to have an IUD fitted, and a mother of four in Bolivia whose baby I held as she had a tubal ligation, women and girls have told me how proud they feel about taking more control over their own lives. Although they had made different choices at different life stages in different countries, they all felt empowered by their choices.

MSI has been taking contraceptive services to where women need them. Since opening our first clinic in London in 1976, we have expanded to serve 37 nations. From training private healthcare providers, to caring for some of the world's most under-served people, and being first to pilot outreach for family planning, we have pioneered ways to reach women and girls and help remove the policy and clinical barriers that prevent them from accessing services.

This year we helped secure ten policy changes including: new national abortion guidelines in Vietnam, approval for midwives to insert contraceptive implants in the Philippines where a lack of trained doctors was restricting women's access, and the registration of Misoprostol in Sri Lanka where it now can be used to manage miscarriage and post-partum hemorrhaging or for medicinal abortions and the treatment of post-abortion complications. doclink

The Cost of Child Marriage

Development experts have always measured the human costs of early marriage, but new data are shedding light on the practice's economic impact. As countries work to ban child marriage, advanced economies - led by the G7 - can help by financing programs proven to mitigate one of the most serious s
May 30, 2018, Project Syndicate   By: Henrietta H. Fore , Natalia Kanem , Mabel Van Oranje

The International Center for Research on Women and the World Bank have reported that, by 2030, $4 trillion would be saved on welfare expenditures if child marriage was stopped.

In Indonesia, where 14% of girls are married before their 18th birthday, President Joko Widodo has recognized the human and economic costs and has vowed to end the practice. However, in most developing countries, change is not occurring fast enough and funding for this cause is inadequate. Worldwide, approximately one in five girls under 18 are married or in a union and many are already mothers. The world's highest rate of child marriage is in Niger at 76%.

Now that the economic costs are clear, this is a good time to address the problem. Ensuring access to safe, quality education is a key to ending child marriage. Girls must be given the tools for success. In order for this cause to be successful rich countries must join the fight. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, has vowed to make gender equality a theme in discussions with other G7 ministers.

The World Bank estimates that, by banning child marriage, Niger would save $1.7 billion in welfare costs. Bangladesh's savings would be approximately $4.8 billion, and Nigeria's $7.6 billion.

Even though the number of girls married is declining each year, change is occurring too slowly. If the world does not act now and invest more in this cause, population growth will overtake gains and the number of child brides will be on the rise again. doclink

The Pernicious Climate Dictum - Don't Mention Population

June 19, 2018, Berkeleyside   By: George Gitlitz

The Berkeley City Council addressed the issue of over-population as it relates to global warming in its declaration of a climate emergency

The author called it a "breakthrough" that CO2 emissions are being considered, not only as a per capita function, but also as a function of the number of people doing the emitting. In the campaign to reduce emissions the role of population has largely been ignored. Hybrid cars, solar energy, and using gas instead of coal are often the main topics of discussion.

There were 2.5 billion people in the world in 1950, and they were responsible for 6 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. The world now has 7.6 billion people so, logically speaking, CO2 emissions should triple. This isn't the case, however, CO2 emissions now measure 36 billion tons. This is largely due to countries with large populations, like China, becoming industrialized. China is now the world's largest emitter at 10 billion tons of CO2 annually.

In 2009 Scientific American concluded that, to reverse the effects of global warming, emissions need to fall 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, or to approximately 12-13 billion tons of CO2 a year. Assuming half the world is still agrarian and half is industrialized, the author hypothesized that emissions will fall to that level only if the world's population decreases to 2.55 billion.

For this reason, professional environmentalists advocate for both family planning and per capita carbon reducing. In 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that, if access to contraception was provided to women who said they needed it, CO2 emissions could be lowered by 30% by 2100.

The need to reduce population is often denied because many think it interferes with economic growth. In fact regions often pursue growth to stimulate their economies. In fact, "growth without end-point is unsustainable." Population reduction is essential in the climate change solution. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Girls education is another important factor. See Masai-Harmonial.org

The High Price of Gender Inequality

June 19, 2018, Jordan Times   By: Kristalina Georgieva and Marie-claude Bibeau

A new report from World Bank Group finds that if women worldwide had the same lifetime earnings as men, global wealth would increase by $23,620 per person, on average, for a total of $160 trillion.

This would effect expand the middle class and eliminate some of the factors associated with social and political instability.

To erase inequality, all women should have access to health care, proper nutrition, and safe and effective learning environments throughout the educational process. Also important are upholding sexual and reproductive rights and combating sexual and gender-based violence, including harmful practices like child, early or forced marriage.

Women need to be given access to land ownership, credit, insurance, and savings, and the social norms that "relegate" women to lower paid professions need to be changed.

It is imperative that the priorities of women be put at the forefront of the consideration of all governments and international entities.

Canada is one country that has done this with its Feminist International Assistance Policy that seeks to ensure equal rights and economic opportunities for all women and girls.

Another initiative that addresses inequality is the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, which is based at the World Bank and supported by 14 governments. It loans money to women-owned or women-led businesses in developing countries.

"Only by unleashing the full potential of all people to participate fully in the economy can we strengthen growth, eliminate poverty and respond effectively to mounting global challenges, from conflict to climate change." doclink

A More Resilient World: the Role of Population and Family Planning in Sustainable Development

June 27, 2018, New Security Beat   By: Olivia Smith

A recent Wilson Center event focused on the development of a more resilient world through sustainable development. "Community mobilization, local capacity-building, and innovation are the cornerstones of successful development," according to Franklin Moore, Africare's Chief of Programs. And, he believes "tailored education campaigns" are necessary for change.

One of the biggest hurdles to achieving resilience is water security. Water is essential for life, and each person in the developed world uses enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool every year. As the population grows so does the demand for water. The ongoing water crisis in Pakistan, where the population is predicted to reach 300 million by 2050, "has brought the population issue also on to the table," said Zeba Sathar of the Population Council.

Changing farms to feed families is another way to contribute to the stability of communities. Seventy percent of water usage goes to food production, so Africare is encouraging farmers to plant drought-resistant plants to feed livestock. And, to address the problem of population growth exceeding food supply, family planning is being promoted along with changes in agricultural practices that increase nutritious food production.

Displacement due to extreme weather has caused additional instability in undeveloped regions. In Nigeria droughts have contributed to this problem, and in Pakistan flooding has led to destroyed homes and livelihoods.

"Seventy percent of water we use on this planet goes to food production," said Eric Viala, Director of the Sustainable Water Partnership.. "If you don't have the water to produce food, you can't eat.” Severe droughts can lead to hunger, even famine; while too much water-floods-can swamp farmland.

Zeba Sathar reported that the African Union has seen success "linking the reduction in fertility, and favorable birth spacing patterns, with a demographic dividend...with positive development outcomes.”

Jason Bremmer of Family Planning 2020 believes that to achieve resilience "it is really critical that we understand these interlinked challenges and we find new ways of doing business, as business as usual - standard family planning programs, our standard efforts of reaching communities with water and environmental issues - are going to be further stressed.” doclink

New World Atlas of Desertification Shows Unprecedented Pressure on Planet's Resources

On June 21, 2018, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission published the World Atlas of Desertification, offering a tool for improving local responses to soil loss and land degradation
June 21, 2018, EurekaAlert!

In June, a new edition of the Atlas of Desertification was released by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Since the last edition (20 years ago), soil loss and land degradation have increased dramatically, and the the new findings highlight an urgent need to correct land usage worldwide.

The atlas shows that 75% of the land area is already degraded, and over 90% could become degraded by 2050.

Land degradation and climate change are estimated to lead to a reduction of global crop yields by about 10% by 2050.

Worldwide, a total area of half the European Union is degraded annually. Soil degradation for the EU alone costs tens of billions euros a year. An uptick in deforestation makes it difficult to minimize climate change. And, by 2050, 700 million people are estimated to be displaced due to land issues.

On the global level, under the United Nations' Sustainable Development Agenda, world leaders have committed to "combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world" by 2030.

Local solutions and cooperation are also needed. Increasing farming yields, changing to plant based diets, and eating animal proteins from sustainable sources only are advised locally. doclink

Trump's Ban on Global Abortion Funding Has Led to More Abortions

May 24, 2018, CNN.com   By: Nima Elbagir, Lillian Leposo, and Eliza Mackintosh

US Agency for International Development (USAID) cuts imposed by President Donald Trump's Mexico City policy have led to more abortions (mostly backstreet) as a form of birth control. Many in undeveloped countries like Kenya relied on that aid to provide women with birth control. Without it many cannot afford contraceptives, are becoming pregnant, and are then resorting to backstreet abortions to terminate the pregnancy.

In Kenya, where abortion is illegal, Khadijah Dija used to visit a family clinic to get free injectable birth control every three months. With the cuts in place, it now costs her $4, money she does not have. Without birth control, she became pregnant and had to pay $10 for illegal abortion pills, as she cannot support another child and gets no help from her husband. She is still bleeding a month after taking the pills. Wilson Bunde of Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) reports that women who were coming to clinics for contraceptives are now coming to be treated for botched abortions instead. Botched abortions cost Kenya approximately $6.3 million in 2016.

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), a global provider of contraceptives and reproductive health services, will lose $100 million after refusing to abide by the terms of Trump's policy. That forced FHOK to stop offering free or reduced cost contraception, close a clinic, and cut a community outreach program. Because of those cuts, Bunde estimated that 36,000 women went without family planning last year.

The Mexico City policy, otherwise known as the 'global gag rule', has been in place on and off since President Ronald Reagan introduced it in 1984. Generally over the years, it has been rescinded by Democratic administrations and reinstated by Republicans, but it has never before been applied to this extent. Trump's policy cuts an estimated $8.8 billion in assistance -- funding that applies not only to family planning, as it has previously, but extends to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, infectious diseases, and even hygiene programs, while the 2001 Bush administration cut only about $600 million.

A 2011 Stanford University study found that, when the Mexico City policy is in place, women were up to 2.73 times more likely to get abortions.

Trump is also considering similar changes in the US. Recently his administration proposed a new rule that would bar abortions or abortion advice at facilities receiving federal family planning funds. Those who don't comply would lose federal funding. It would be a domestic version of the global gag policy. doclink