When a Yugoslavian new-born was declared the 5
billionth human on July 11, 1987,the governing council of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) established a "World Population Day" with the aim
of focusing attention on the urgent and sensitive issue of world population.
A huge population has deep links to poverty,
hunger, homelessness, a lack of affordable and accessible healthcare, education
and other resources, and an overall dip in human well-being. In a country like
India with a total population exceeding 1.2 billion, we are unable to provide
basics like food, shelter, healthcare and education for all. Increasing numbers
make it impossible to establish social security measures.
World Population Day is especially significant
for developing countries to deal with increasing population numbers and ensure
health for total populations.
World Population Day
The key UN agency focusing on issues regarding
population is the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund).
The UNFPA focuses on a cluster of themes under
its "population matters" programme. These themes are:
According to UNFPA statistics, people older than 60 make up 11% of the world's
total population. Ageing brings with it a set of challenges in terms of health
and personal independence. UNFPA works on raising awareness about an ageing
global population. It also provides data and information support towards public
policies addressing the issue of ageing.
UNFPA focuses on supporting countries conduct regular census to record key data
like number of persons per sq km, housing numbers and other statistical
information. UNFPA sometimes provides financial as well as technical support to
ensure that census data is generated for development.
Climate Change: UNFPA closely works with local governments to understand how population
dynamics affects climate. Climate
change impacts all populations but it is the vulnerable population of
the poor and homeless who are most likely to be impacted the worst. UNFPA works
towards addressing present and future needs.
Demographic Dividend: A "demographic dividend" refers to a boost in economic productivity
when there are large numbers in the workforce age group. UNFPA works with local
governments, partners and civil society to support policies that encourage
demographic dividends in the population.
UNFPA works towards understanding migration patterns and collecting information
for better migration data. UNFPA also advocates for the concerns of vulnerable
migrants like women and displaced people.
Accelerated urbanization draws populations to its city centers. These
migrations impact sexual and
reproductive health and birth rates. UNFPA works with
governments towards sustainability of urban populations. UNFPA also works to
ensure population services like HIV counseling, testing, access to birth
control measures and reproductive services.
Population trends: UNFPA works with local governments and partners to identify population
trends like changing fertility rates, migration patterns and accelerated
urbanization. UNFPA works with countries to put public policies in place, which
encourage sustainable development in population matters like safe pregnancies
and safe births.
Objectives of World
The main objective of World Population Day is
to increase awareness and knowledge among communities on the issue of
population. Some of the other objectives include:
Empowering the youth of the nation
to exercise their rights and choice in marriage and pregnancy.
Education on sexual and reproductive
Education on safe birth control
Education on safe sex and risks of
STDs (sexual transmitted diseases).
Education of women on safe
Awareness of women's rights.
Ensure access to reproductive
services for all.
The international awareness campaigns that are
marked throughout the world on World Population Day intend to raise public
awareness on the above issues. Campaign themes include gender sensitization,
reproductive rights, mother and child health and others that feed into
highlighting the importance of a healthy and stable population.
Significance of World
The burgeoning world population and its
attendant issues is a challenge to global development.
According to recent UN statistics, the world
population reached 7 billion on October 31, 2011. Estimates peg the world
population at 8 billion by 2024. The current rate of growth of the world
population is 1.14% per year. Population is growing rapidly in developing
countries and India is expected to overtake China's population by 2030.
A growing world population implies immense
pressure on natural resources where more people are competing for the same
resources. A growing population also pressurises the health systems of
countries. In developing countries where social security in health is absent,
people's access to quality healthcare is compromised.
Significantly, marking World Population Day
brings these issues to light and draws the attention of governments, NGO
partners and communities to act on important issues. It is important for every
country to regulate numbers, maintain a healthy
, ensure reproductive health and
provide for maternal and child health and advocate for freedom of choice in
family planning. These issues and concerns have to be addressed to ensure a
healthy and stable population that contributes to overall development of the
A developing country like India needs to take
action measures to implement some norms for population control. Though we have
seen a number of campaigns (like Hum Do,
) advocating a two-child family, there has been no legislation in
this area. Limiting the population rate will free available resources to be
harnessed towards a quality population. If India has to take its place in the
gallery of developed nations, we have to address the serious concern about our
rapidly increasing, unmanageable population.
At the Millennium Development Goals Summit in
2000, global leaders agreed on a common goal of achieving universal access to
reproductive health by 2015, enhancing gender equality and ending
discrimination against women. On World Population Day 2015, it is time to
reflect and hold our leaders accountable on these goals.