Seven Billion – NYTimes.com

By Juliana Jiménez

Woman in train station, India.
Woman in train station, India. AP/US State Dept.

Some interesting facts on the condition of women worldwide arise out of this NYT article on whether the Earth can sustain Seven Billion people, a population count we are predicted to hit today:

  • Most of the world’s 800 million illiterate people are women. (Which reinforces a vicious cycle of disenfranchisement, among other things).
  • “Nearly two-thirds of women under 50 who are married or in a union use some form of contraception, which saves the lives of mothers who would otherwise die in childbirth and avoids millions of abortions each year.” (Not all are pessimistic and depressing statistics).
  • Of the 208 million pregnancies in 2008, about 86 million were unintended, and they resulted in 33 million unplanned births. (Cutting this number with contraceptives would also appease conservatives who oppose abortion).
  • Contraceptives have been free since 2002 in Niger, where the total fertility rate — more than seven children per woman in mid-2010 — was the world’s highest.
  • Women in Niger marry at a median age of 15.5 (Statutory rape? This drives maternal mortality through the roof and significantly lowers the standard of living for the mother, child and their entire communities).

A child from Niger.

  • Niger married women and men reported in 2006 that they wanted an average of 8.8 and 12.6 children, respectively. (What’s four more children, give and take, when you’re not the one carrying the baby and depleting your life-energy?)
  • “Is economic development the best contraception? Or is voluntary contraception the best form of development?” (How about both? What do we have to loose from trying a combination of the two?). 
  • “There is no panacea, though some priorities are clear: voluntary contraception and support services, universal primary and secondary education, and food for pregnant and lactating mothers and children under 5. (Educating girls and women greatly reduces the number of children per woman).

Many of the actions suggested would not only be a human rights triumph, but would also ease environmental strains on resources already stretched thin. Like the article points out, “these priorities are mutually reinforcing, and they are affordable.”

One thought on “Seven Billion – NYTimes.com

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