Population by the Numbers
25 years ago, the United Nations Development Programme declared July 11th to be World Population Day. Much has changed in the past quarter century. Significant progress has been made, but many challenges remain. More women than ever are able to decide freely how many children to have and when, but many women in the world still lack access to modern methods of contraceptives, and gender inequality in the developing world prevents many girls and women from exercising their reproductive freedom. As a result, global fertility rates have fallen, but not as fast as once expected. Without access to reproductive services, maternal and infant mortality remain unacceptably high, and the challenges posed by a growing world population continue to mount.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN set 2015 as the target year for achieving universal access to reproductive health, but that target will not be met. The international community needs to recommit itself to empowering women and girls and ensuring that they have access to reproductive health services. It's the pathway to healthy families and a healthy world.