On July 11, 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joins the global community in commemoration of World Population Day. This comes at a critical moment, for population issues and policies are advancing to the forefront of global efforts to build a future that is more sustainable, prosperous, and just. The evidence is clear: Ensuring gender equality, advancing reproductive health, and protecting reproductive rights help nations break the cycle of poverty.
While some countries have seen incredible progress, others, especially those that experience violent conflict and natural disasters, have fallen further behind. Women and girls in these countries face additional perils, including sexual violence, abuse, and exploitation; forced marriage; female genital mutilation/cutting; and health complications.
This year’s World Population Day theme is “vulnerable populations in emergencies,” which reminds us that those with the least power are most in need of protection. Some of the most effective strategies include investing in women and girls; putting an end to gender-based violence, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting; boosting women’s economic empowerment and promoting their political participation and leadership; and advancing reproductive health and rights by providing universal access to voluntary family planning.
Photo credit: Susan Liebold