World Population Day is observed annually on July 11, to raise awareness of the global population and the challenges it poses. Established in 1989 by the United Nations Development Programme, the day marks the moment at which the population surpassed 5 billion on July 11, 1987. This year’s theme concerns gender equality.
When the United Nations was formed in 1945, women’s groups and activists helped to push for the recognition of women’s needs in the UN charter. In 1979, all forms of discrimination against women were prohibited.
More recently, the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have emphasised the importance of gender equality, and the empowerment of all women and girls, to development.
World Population Day presents an opportunity to assess what has been achieved and how far we still must go.
At the Warwick Interdisciplinary Centre for International Development (WICID), the issue of gender is salient. WICID’s work seeks to make gender a mainstream consideration in our analyses of development issues today.
WICID is led by Shirin M. Rai, a professor in the department of Politics and International Studies. Professor Rai has written and researched gender, governance and development, and gender and political institutions extensively. Her work on gender and the costs of care and caring is reflected in her current project – “Care, Carers and Caring” – as part of the UKRI funded Consortium on Practices of Wellbeing and Resilience in BAME Families and Communities.
Professor Rai commented: “Population growth contributes to increasing levels of consumption, which adversely affects environmental sustainability. It also reflects the lack of reproductive rights for women, leading to unwanted pregnancies, maternal deaths and sexually transmitted diseases. Ensuring reproductive rights, facilitating public information campaigns and debates on the environment and gender equality, and supporting the health and educational infrastructure will have a positive impact on population growth, global sustainability and gender equality.”
More broadly, World Population Day will also raise awareness for migration; a topic the University leads on. Professors Vicki Squire, Nick Vaughan Williams and Dallal Stevens have published ‘Reclaiming Migration: Voices from Europe’s Migrant Crisis’, a book on the EU’s migration policy and mass movement across borders.