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UN says population fear could harm human rights

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while Elon Musk cares very little about children and climate activist Predicting an overpopulation crisis, the United Nations is warning that the bigger danger may be alarmism on both sides of the population debate.

The fear of overpopulation and underpopulation is prompting countries to act to reduce, increase or stabilize their birth rates. a new report Published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday.

But reasonable concerns can turn into population “alarmism,” risking potentially dangerous new policies that could undermine years of efforts to improve basic human rights and gender equality, according to the report.

“This alarmism poses a real risk,” the report said. “One, that population anxiety will distract us from serious but solvable problems, and two, that population anxiety will become an argument for denying the rights and bodily autonomy of women and girls.”

Concern about overpopulation has hit a fever pitch lately. when the world’s population crossed 8 billion people In November, fears of overpopulation spread across sub-Saharan Africa, where eight countries According to the United Nations, it will account for more than half of global population growth between now and 2050.

Area officials say stemming from demographic conflict Population is growing faster than economiesand that it lacks sufficient time and resources to build the infrastructure and food systems necessary to ensure that every citizen has access to sufficient resources.

But at the same time, birth rates in the developed world have plummeted even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to fears of the opposite phenomenon: depopulation. Musk, CEO of Tesla and Twitter, is among the more vocal advocates of high birth rates, arguing that economies and civilization could collapse if the world lacks enough young people. “The declining birth rate is by far the greatest threat to civilization,” he said. Tweeted Confirming last year that she had recently given birth to her eighth and ninth children.

The two doomsday scenarios have elicited a range of policy responses. fastest growing countries like nigeria Recently changed its policies to increase access to family counseling and planning. Meanwhile, birth control has become much more difficult to access in wealthier European countries. Croatia And poland,

Population Rhetoric Risk

It is true that in many countries the birth rate, including america, are below the “replacement rate” needed to maintain population levels for many decades. This has raised fears of an economic catastrophe, as not enough young workers are entering the labor force to replace the growing number of retirees in developed countries. The situation can, in turn, lead to financial trouble. public spending On increasing health care, long-term care and pensions.

But while there are appropriate solutions to these problems, the UN report found that the burden of low birth rates falls largely on women who choose to delay or avoid family formation altogether. “In many contexts, the blame is placed at the feet of women, who are often reprimanded for rejecting marriage and motherhood,” the report said. a “submissive model of femininity” and traditional family and gender values.

The report found that recent policy changes in countries such as Poland and Turkey have not only limited access to contraceptives, but they have also reduced paid government services for counseling and reproductive health care, and forced sex education in schools. Education has been cut.

The United Nations warned against confusing demographic adjustment as the only solution to global issues such as climate change, saying that overpopulation and underpopulation risk becoming “scapegoats for many problems”. Instead, the report recommended voluntary family planning services, education on reproductive health, and access to birth control and abortion as a way to fix demographic issues without impeding human rights.

The United Nations cautioned against top-down decisions that set fertility rates, as economic gains are likely to come at the expense of equality, human rights and progress, and “empower women and girls to exercise their own choices”. may limit the essential goal of making.” body and future.

This is not the first time that the United Nations has warned that population alarmism could worsen demographic issues. UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said last year the global population approached 8 billion Growing population was “no reason to fear” And that history shows that population control policies ranging from bans on contraceptives to forced vasectomy are often “ineffective and even dangerous.”

“We cannot repeat the gross violations of human rights … that rob women of their ability to decide whether [or] When to get pregnant, if at all. Population alarmism: It distracts us from what we should be focusing on,” she said.