COLUMN: Women's rights and overpopulation

Four years ago, the global population exceeded seven billion for the first time.

The global population is definitely not expected to stop there. According to the United Nations, there will be nine billion people on the planet in 2043, and a further 10 billion in the year 2083.

Rapid population growth is an issue that will affect all of us in the coming decades.

It’s important, then, for researchers to work on trying to find as many solutions as possible to stemming our population growth for the future of our planet.

Some possible answers include increasing access to contraceptive services, especially in developing countries.

According to the United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, less than five percent of people in most countries in Africa even use contraceptive services.

Another potential answer lies in increasing women’s access to educational services around the globe. According to Alan Weisman, a former professor for the University of Arizona who was quoted in U.S. News and World Report, allowing women to have more access to education can “give women the opportunity to choose how many children they want.”

Women who have lower education rates in often have higher fertility rates than women with increased levels of education around 
the world.

According to U.S. News and World Report, 40 percent of adult women in Africa have no education, compared to a lower 20 percent in Asia and 10 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Countries like Mali in Africa, for example, have high fertility rates due to this lower access to education for women.

The U.S. can increase its commitment to women’s rights globally as a way to counter overpopulation.

However, previous U.S. foreign policy has not been very effective in addressing this goal.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, former President George W. Bush’s plan to address AIDS globally (titled the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR), led to huge amounts of money going into Africa, but also prohibited organizations from using any of the funds on family planning services.

Under current President Barack Obama, PEPFAR actually lost funding. According to the Washington Post, funding for the program has fallen twelve percent since the 
year 2010.

So not only was PEPFAR not funding family planning services, its funding to combat diseases like AIDS has steadily decreased to begin with.

The U.S. must renew its commitment to supporting women’s rights across the planet if it wants to address overpopulation.

If the United States does not do this, it’s difficult to imagine many other countries stepping up to promote a reasonable answer to 

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