A boost of aid for women in developing countries such as Somalia to help them control their fertility has been urged by experts in a range of fields including health, demography and climate change.
"The global population is expected to reach the seven-billion mark this year and to hit 10 billion by 2100," noted Mary Robinson, the former Irish president and chair of the Aspen Institute's Global Leaders Council that staged the forum in Washington.
Advertisement"Somalia shows the extent to which failure to learn from the famine in 1992, and our failure to prioritize the health of women and children has become a global problem, one none of us can ignore," she told the audience gathered at the National Press Club.
Just one percent of married women in Somalia have access to modern contraception, and their fertility rate is among the highest in the world, according to data compiled by the Population Reference Bureau.
Without access to reproductive health services, the "rates will remain unacceptably high, and children will be inadequately nourished," according to the PRB's 2011 World Population Data Sheet.
Somalia has the eighth highest birth rate in the world, and the average family has seven children.
"Somali women are not alone," insisted Geoff Dabelko, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program, and also a featured speaker at the event.
"More than 215 million women around the world want to plan their families, yet lack access to modern contraception," he said.
The Aspen Institute backed calls made at a September UN conference held by the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health that urged world leaders to double investment from $3.1 billion to $6.7 billion to help provide family planning services.