July 11 is UN World Population Day, harkening back to 1987’s “Day of Five Billion,” when the United Nations sought to highlight population growth and development issues. The response worldwide was massive, so the UN decided to make the date a yearly reminder that issues of family, human rights, poverty, health, environment, and development are problems with deep roots needing deep commitment.
Estimating that each year 83 million people are being added to the world’s population—two-and-a-half billion since 1987—the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works with governmental and non-governmental, faith-based and secular organizations, “ensuring a steady, reliable supply of quality contraceptives; strengthening national health systems; advocating for policies supportive of family planning; and gathering data to support this work.”
The theme for this year is Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations and will be accompanied by a Family Planning Summit held in London. Their goal is to provide safe family planning for parents who desire it in places where it is not easily available, “to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled.”
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the UNFPA continues to believe that “Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. It is also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty.”
At heart, World Population Day is about giving everyone the opportunity to take responsibility for his or her life.