“Women and Population” Lecture Brings Statistics to Life

Vanessa Duffy

What if I told you the fate of the world’s balance lies in the hands of women? Technically, yes.

The current world populaiton is 6.8 billion and it’s creating an imbalance. Women’s status in society will determine how much higher that number will grow.

Two things attribute to this cause; the reason and the problem.

The reason for this all time high population is becuase people stopped dying. In the 1800’s, medicine and vaccinations were introduced to treat and prevent the diseases that killed most people before the age of 30. More people survived to adulthood and reproduced.

The main problem is undeducated women who have low status in society. “Women’s literacy is one of the most important activities for the future of our planet,” said Marla Conti, Cultural Geography professor at Glendale. Conti held a lecture about World Population and the Empowerment of Women at GCC on March 17.

The more people in the world, the more stress on the environment. There will be more polution and poverty. Food production will need to increase rapidly to keep up with the population.

More than half of all newborns are born into slums and poverty. Many countries don’t practice family planning and the women don’t have a choice as to wether or not they want to have a child.

By empowering women to make thier own birth decisions, the world will eventually reach the idea of zero population growth (1 man, 1 woman and 2 children), which will create balance.

Statistically, fertility is high where literacy is low and vise versa. In countries such as India and Africa, women have an average of 6 to 8 children.

Women are generally fertile until the age of 45 and the average age of marriage among literate women is 26.

45 – 26 = 19 years of fertility

In countries where women have low literacy, the average age of marriage is 16.

45 – 16 = 29 years of fertility

Ask yourself, are you married? Those who answered no probably want to wait until obtaining a degree.

“Literacy lowers birth rates because women stay in school longer which delays marriage and the birth of a woman’s first child,” said Conti.

By giving women the choice, they will take up opportunities such as getting an education and choosing a career.

It’s been a man’s world for a long time, but In America, women are becoming increasingly more sucessfull in various careers such as medicine, law and education.

In the nineteenth century, women were second to men and typically gave up a career and education to have children and be housewives. Women were barely beginning to gain admission to colleges at that time.

Recent statistics show that colleges and universities across the United States are occupied by 60 percent of women.

In 1995, women and men were tied in obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Women have been holding the lead at an increasing rate since then.

“I think college women have been more realistic than men,” said Jessica Gillooly, Psychology professor at Glendale. “Many women have seen thier parents through divorce or job-loss and reazlize that they might have to support themselves.”

The necessary improvement of women in society will shatter old traditions. The term housewife is already becoming obsolete. Women are striving for independence thus easing the need to find a man who can financially support them.

Other countries would consider this blasphemous. The only need for women is to bear children, a son preferably. Gender preferance highly contributes to birth rate. For families who can’t afford birth control or medicine, one son isn’t good enough because he may die.

“I’m glad that [women] are continually progressing,” said Krystyne Taub, junior at GCC. “[Women] have a lot to offer, but still have to fight harder than men to get higher paying jobs.”

Graphs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that women continue to make significantly less than men whether it’s with or without a degree.

Although women are climbing the staus ladder in general, they are still not as far along in politics and business…at least not in the United States.

There are currently 18 female presidents and prime ministers around the world, and at least 40 other countries have previously had a woman as head of state.

The worlds ten most populous nations are (in order): China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and Japan. Of those, three hold a prominent female leader: India, Brazil and Bangladesh.

However, in many of these countries women are still second-class citizens.

Hilary Clinton would have been the first female president of the United States. She is an advocate of equality and initated many women’s rights groups, even when she was the first lady.

In the March issue of “Newsweek” 150 Women Who Shake the World, Clinton said, “If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.”

On March 8, the 100th anniversary of International Womens Day, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs launched the program “Empowering Women & Girls through International Exchanges.”

This is also known as the 100 Women Initiative which brings 100 women leaders from 92 countries into the United States to focus on foreign policy issues directly affecting women and girls worldwide, according to the Global Women’s Issues (GWI) website.

“If democracy is to prosper, it cannot do so without the participation of women,” said Melanne Verveer, Ambassador for GWI.”That would be a condradiction. We know where women make progress; so do countries.”

In summary, women are slowly reaching an equilibrium with men in literate countries, but they are practically in mideival times in others. Empowering women worldwide will be as beneficial to men as it is for women in the long run.