International Women’s Day is 8 March — a day when women and men across the globe stand together to demand gender equality.
Despite significant advances during the last 100 years, women in many countries still do not have equal rights. In some countries women are still viewed as little more than second-class citizens and all too often have little say over their own lives. Child marriage is still shockingly prevalent — approximately 41,000 girls are coerced into marriage every single day.
About 222 million women do not have the means or power to decide the size of their families and thus end up having more children than they would like. For the poorest families, this can mean that there is not enough money to educate all of the children. Sons’ education is usually given priority while girls are pulled out of school early and all too often given away as child brides. And so the cycle continues. This has to stop.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!” Women cannot be empowered to reach their full potential if they do not receive a full education and can’t decide for themselves who and when to marry and limit the number of children they have, if they so desire.
Women’s rights are human rights, but this is not just a human-rights issue. There already are far too many people on Earth and we are multiplying rapidly. We’ve more than doubled our numbers in just the last 60 years. We are systematically exhausting natural resources and irreversibly degrading the natural environment.
At Population Matters, our vision is of a sustainable future with decent living standards for all, a healthy environment and a stable population size. That cannot happen unless women are given control over their own bodies.