As a U.S.-based organization dedicated to stabilizing global population, we recognize our responsibility to amplify the voices of people from the Global South—people who live daily with the causes and consequences of rapid population growth.
At the time of our founding as Zero Population Growth, or ZPG, more than 50 years ago, American women had, on average, nearly four children each. A variety of factors—including, notably, access to birth control options—led the fertility rate here in the U.S. to decline to an average of less two children per woman by the late 1970s, where it has remained since.
This decline in fertility brought a host of benefits for American women—less exposure to serious health risks during pregnancy and childbirth, greater personal autonomy, and better access to education and career options. These advances haven’t occurred evenly for all American women, though, with women of color still experiencing unacceptably high levels of maternal morbidity and mortality and greater barriers to equal pay than white women have faced. Furthermore, the rate of unintended pregnancy among Black women is more than twice as high as the unintended pregnancy rate for white women. Even so, while we have much work left to do in the U.S., substantial progress is undeniable.
This is not so in much of the developing world, and especially in the 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), where women still have an average of 3.74 children during their lifetimes. Limited access to reproductive health care and family planning options plays an outsized role in preventing women from choosing smaller families, and U.S. policies such as the Global Gag Rule and the Helms Amendment restrict access further. It’s also true that virtually all women living in LDCs are women of color, whose concerns go unheard as American politicians debate their fates and decide on U.S. policies with sweeping global ramifications.
At Population Connection, we actively seek out expert voices from the Global South to ensure that we’re highlighting their critical points of view relating to population growth, reproductive health, and environmental justice. We’re committed to uplifting the personal stories and concerns of the people in the places U.S. foreign aid reaches—the places where population is growing fastest, poverty is most entrenched, and environmental concerns are most critical.
Global population growth affects everyone through climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, overfishing, and so many other challenges.* When addressing these challenges, it’s especially important that we take into account the perspectives of people striving to live healthy, fulfilling lives while faced with the twin barriers of insufficient access to reproductive health care and regional populations growing faster than resources or infrastructure can support.
Population Connection is always searching for people in high-fertility countries who wish to become powerful advocates for the population stabilization movement. We’ve recently asked our friends and partners in countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa to share their stories through earned media outreach, our quarterly magazine, and our membership engagement events. Here are just a few examples:
This article from our March 2021 magazine issue features some of our international partners and lists the recent news outlets that have published stories and quotes from our friends and colleagues in Guatemala, Kenya, and South Africa. The September 2020 edition of our magazine served as a platform for family planning and demography experts from Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal.
We were proud to have Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka of Uganda and Drs. Rodrigo Barillas and Michelle Dubon of Guatemala present their work during our Summer Speaker Series—you can watch their recorded presentations here. Pape Gaye of Senegal spoke to Population Connection members and supporters during our Fall Speaker Series—you can watch the recording of his presentation here.
Capitol Hill Days
During our 2020 Capitol Hill Days Digital Weekend of Action we shared videos from a wide array of speakers spotlighting the cruel effects of Trump’s policies—notably, the Global Gag Rule—on people abroad. And during our 2021 Digital Capitol Hill Days, which began yesterday, participants are hearing from panelists from Ecuador, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, and Uganda.
We always prefer to be the ones behind the scenes when there are people who belong front and center and are willing and able to speak on the issues we address—especially the issue of population growth. If you are one such person or you know of someone who would be a great contact for us and our work, please email and let us know!
* Of course, we in high-income countries have played an outsized role in these environmental crises. We must take stock of our own conspicuous consumption and large environmental footprints and make serious changes to our per capita and collective impacts on the planet. Because just as rapid population growth is unsustainable, so too is the level at which the wealthy use up natural resources, produce greenhouse gas emissions, and create waste.