The last session of this series explores how empowering women facilitates development and eases environmental pressures made worse by climate change. We will investigate how the status of women affects both sustainability and state stability within a society, especially within the contexts of reproductive health, family planning, and education. This concluding session posits that prioritizing women’s reproductive rights—especially universal access to voluntary family planning—is necessary for achieving more stable and sustainable communities.
Population Connection used to focus exclusively on domestic advocacy efforts, but once the U.S. achieved replacement fertility in the 1970s, we shifted our focus towards international efforts. Broadly, our organization recognizes that the relationship between population growth and environmental degradation is complex and uneven, and intimately connected to resource distribution, consumption patterns, affluence, and access. Our Population Education program trains K-12 educators throughout the U.S. and offers resources on the interrelated themes of population, demography, and the environment, which can be incorporated into existing curricula and used as a way to teach young people about the ways in which population dynamics affect our world. Our Population Studies for Higher Education program develops free academic-style resources and engages in educational panels, presentations, and workshops for university professors, students, and the broader public. We believe that more and better population education is a necessary precursor to a sustainable future, and it is our hope that our educational resources empower young people to become the most autonomous, thoughtful, and informed adults possible. This includes the widespread understanding that U.S. consumption rates are among the highest in the world, and that resource use, carbon emissions, pollution, and other environmental harms are disproportionately produced by the U.S. and other high-consuming countries.
Internationally, we focus on U.S. policies that affect family planning aid and distribution. Under Trump, we were lobbying and leading advocacy efforts to rescind the global gag rule, a policy that greatly restricted aid and negatively impacted access to reproductive health care around the world. Following its reversal under the Biden Administration, we have been working to pressure Congress to pass the Global HER Act, which would permanently repeal the global gag rule and help further secure international family planning aid. We work to endorse candidates and donate to campaigns that promise to uphold and expand reproductive rights. This includes securing support for Title X, and more recently, efforts to resist and respond to the likely reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Population Connection’s sister organization, Population Connection Action Fund, has a PAC and engages in electoral activities—the urgent focus of which will be fighting against and coordinating a response to the upcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. Part of our planned efforts will involve donating to organizations that provide direct and comprehensive family planning services in at-risk areas around the United States, including Planned Parenthood.
Great question! Historically, U.S. foreign policy has proven to hold significant political and cultural influence for countries around the world, especially in developing regions. For example, Trump’s global gag rule resulted in increased numbers of abortions and a reduction in the use of modern contraceptives throughout African countries that depend on American foreign aid. Additionally, research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that when the global gag rule was in place, “half of the 1.65 billion women aged 15-44 worldwide live[d] in countries where the [policy] would impede otherwise legal abortion services.” Although the global impact of reversing Roe remains to be known, researchers and journalists have begun to weigh in on its potential consequences.
Currently, 22 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion if Roe is overturned. Another several states have legislatures and governors that support restricting abortion rights. More information can be found here.