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Urgent: population growth #8

Rutgers views it as one of this century’s greatest challenges: rapid population growth. And in developing countries in particular, it is actually explosive. Why would we get involved in tackling this complex issue? Because it is directly linked to the best interests of young girls: to family planning, sexual education, contraception. All over the world.

Global stability

Earth currently has 7.3 billion inhabitants. And this figure is expected to rise to 11.2 billion by the close of the century. This will have a huge impact on the global economy, living standards, the environment and global stability. A glance at the figures is sufficient to conclude that swift action needs to be taken. One means of doing so would be to give women (and men) worldwide greater authority over their own bodies. As well as enabling them to decide whether they want to have children and, if so, when and how many.

Four in ten pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted. 225 million women do not receive the contraceptives they want.


Advice in Africa

Population growth is not evenly spread throughout the world. The continent of Africa in particular is faced with a population explosion. This has a direct impact on countless people’s lives. It places a strain on educational resources, while also making jobs harder to come by. Countless African families consequently face the threat of poverty, whereas this is already a harsh reality for many others. Rutgers therefore actively promotes the provision of advice on the importance of family planning. In a personal film, twenty-year-old Nabirye Jamila from Uganda explains both the dire need to raise smaller families and the significance of providing good advice.

Dialogue: an inspiring afternoon

The film had an impact on the Johannes Rutgers Dialogue which Rutgers organised in October 2016. It proved an inspiring afternoon, during which policymakers, politicians and administrators discussed the consequences of global population growth with one another. Read a report of this event.

 Bert Koenders, Dutch Foreign Minister, at the Johannes Rutgers Dialogue. (Credits: Arenda Oomen)
Bert Koenders, Dutch Foreign Minister, at the Johannes Rutgers Dialogue. (Credits: Arenda Oomen)

“If we could only prevent unwanted pregnancies, then it would be a quite considerable achievement. In this regard, it is not simply a matter of “showing how it is done”, we really need to connect closely with the groups in question.’’

Ton Coenen (Executive Director of Rutgers)

Girls make a difference

The future belongs to the young. And this is precisely the reason that Rutgers presented the UNFPA’s State of World Population Report in the Ridderzaal building in The Hague in October 2016. Not to the usual suspects this time, however, but to ten 10-year-old girls. The event was well publicised by the press. The ten girls in question are symbolic of all 10-year-old girls worldwide. These are the girls who might just change the world in ten to fifteen years’ time, after all.

Watch the compilation film of the ten 10-year-old girls!

Opportunities for welfare and prosperity

There are currently around 60 million 10-year-old girls throughout the world. They will reach the age of twenty-four in the year 2030. If we invest in these girls today, then they will later be able to make a conscious decision whether or not to have children. Women who are highly aware, educated and productive, reduce the risk of large families living in poverty. Investing in those girls now therefore boosts their future opportunities for welfare and prosperity. Watch the video ‘population growth and SRHR’

“Our joint future depends very much on the way we support girls in their development into adolescents, and later adults…’’

Arthur Erken (United Nations Population Fund UNFPA)

Going forward

Attracting greater attention to population growth is one of Rutgers’ spearheads. We launched this endeavour in 2016, and shall continue to pursue it throughout 2017. Our knowledge file contains an overview of our activities and the findings of recent research. Both an expert meeting and a public debate focusing on this urgent issue have been placed on the 2017 agenda.

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