Editor's Note: In Honor of World Contraception Day, this blog highlights the experience of Victoria Flores Fernandes from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, and Patricia Poppe, Regional Director of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communications Programs, at UNFPA's recent event, 7 Billion People: Counting on Each Other—Unleashing the Power of Women and Girls.
Nigeria’s former Minister of Health and currently Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, recently called on developing countries to urgently address the needs of women and girls as world population reaches 7 billion.
Dr. Osotimehin was speaking at an event in Washington, D.C. on September 13 entitled “7 Billion People: Counting on Each Other—Unleashing the Power of Women and Girls.” It was part of the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 7 Billion Actions campaign.
As our planet’s population reaches 7 billion people, it is increasingly made up of young people, 90% of whom live in the developing world. In these countries, girls get married very early in life and, in turn, get pregnant at a young age. Dr. Osotimehin cited a recent article that "nine hundred million young women are living without access to education and health, they bear children too early, are excluded from concepts of active, political citizenship and awareness of their place as possible leaders in the global community."
Beyond the health risks women and girls are less likely to continue their education, and have less earning potential for themselves and their families. Essentially, they have little to no chance of ever reaching their potential. Dr. Osotimehin called for empowering girls through education and providing them with other opportunities for human development. A crucial component of this strategy is to delay marriage and childbearing through family planning.