Rapid population growth has become a huge concern globally over the last three decades. According to the United Nations, the world population reached one billion in hundreds of thousands of years, but in just another 200 years or so, it grew seven-fold. The global population touched the seven billion mark in 2011 and currently, it stands at 7.7 billion.
If this trend continues unabated, the numbers are expected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100.
With rising population, issues like gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights become increasingly important. Likewise the stress humans cause on the environment, not only due to unsustainable growth and development practices, but also simply by existing: From climate change to deforestation to the declining groundwater table in many areas and the potable water supply, these are all problems related to the overpopulation of humans.
And in order to raise awareness against these issues, World Population Day is observed on 11 July.
The world marked this day for the first time in 1989 and this year, it is commemorating 31st Population Day, reported India Today.
The global population on 11 July 1987 stood at five billion. So, the UN commemorated that day as the "Five Billion Day". Two years later, the then Governing Council of the United Nations' Development Program decided to observe World Population Day to draw attention towards population issues.
World Population Day 2020 theme
Every year, themes are chosen to highlight different issues on World Population Day. This year, theme for the day is "How to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now".
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has urged people to pay attention to the needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls amid the global pandemic. It says that the world needs to focus on efforts needed to secure their health and human rights.
The UNFPA has also highlighted the increasing cases of violence on women. "Rising household tensions, exacerbated by economic pressures and movement restrictions, are sparking violence around the world. Women sheltering at home with their abusers often have nowhere to turn," it said.
UN Secretary General AntÃ³nio Guterres, through a blog, has urged people to "safeguard sexual and reproductive health care, protect the health and rights of women and girls, and end gender-based violence."
Citing a report by UNFPA, State of World Population 2020, he informed that more than four million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation and 12 million forced to marry this year. He added that the coronavirus pandemic is expected to make matters worse.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Sadananda Gowda said that on this day people should focus on the urgency and importance of population issues. "India holds 2nd biggest share of the population in the world. This means we have to be more careful towards resources, environment and sustainable development," he asserted.
Dr Natalie Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA tweeted that in times of crisis, protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights is imperative.
Member of Parliament and former minister of civil aviation Praful Patel wrote, "Let's empower people, develop nations, control population and celebrate this #WorldPopulationDay!"