There are three primary reasons we at Population Connection work toward population stabilization every day:
- improved human health and longevity
- environmental protection
- social justice
The third reason is the focus of this blog post.
The United Nations declared February 20 the World Day of Social Justice when its general assembly passed a resolution on November 26, 2007. This year’s theme is “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice.”
The 2007 resolution identifies the following (among others) as necessary components to achieving social justice:
- … full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people…;
- … respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms; and
- … broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development…
Where does our work fit in with those items? Well, population stabilization isn’t attainable or sustainable without social justice (equal access to education, employment, and reproductive freedom), and social justice isn’t attainable without zero population growth. As long as rapid population growth surges on, marginalized people will continue to be left behind and their rights will continue to be overlooked.
Despite the greed exhibited and the self-interested policies imposed by many of the most privileged people in power, it’s actually better for everyone when equity, inclusion, and a commitment to human rights are prioritized. Crime goes down, communicable diseases are better controlled, health care costs decline, and the natural environment on which we all depend stays cleaner and more productive.
Going back to the theme of this year’s World Day of Social Justice, the inequalities gap is the crux of the challenge. We live in a world where 26 people have as much wealth as the 3.8 billion people with the least wealth. And although the number of people living in extreme poverty has been declining in recent years, 10 percent of people continue to live below the poverty line ($1.90 per day), struggling (and often failing) to survive. Millions of people, based on where they live and how little money they have, lack effective means to plan their pregnancies, and end up risking their lives to continue—or end—those pregnancies. The babies born as a result of these unintended pregnancies prevent parents from focusing more attention and resources on fewer children. This cycle continues when those babies grow up to be children, teens, and then adults in the same low-resource, same massively unequal settings.
Let’s commit to closing all types of inequalities gaps—health, education, employment, and wealth—on this World Day of Social Justice.