WASHINGTON, September 21, 2014 — As the latest estimate on population growth projects an excess of 11 billion people living on planet Earth by the year 2100, humanity faces a serious problem.
Population growth hurts certain groups more than others. With the vast majority of population growth occurring in overcrowded and/or underdeveloped regions of the world, those already deprived of even basic necessities will be further burdened by regional shortages and global price hikes. Women in these regions are often treated as second-class citizens, and population growth threatens to deepen the plight of these individuals suffering from gender inequalities.
In developed countries, Middle Class women are positioned to overcome the ill-effects of population growth. Thanks to the capacity to control their family size and their socioeconomic standing, the ill-effects of population growth will likely affect these women no more than their male counterparts. For developed countries, gender inequality is largely a social issue diminishing with economic development and cultural evolution. In the Third World, countries are often socially and culturally stunted due to a lack of social infrastructure and critical resources.
Moreover, as civil liberties take a backseat when a population is preoccupied with basics like food, water, clothing, and shelter, it is poor women in developed countries who will experience the greatest inequality due to already existing disadvantages while they also be the least likely to overcome that disadvantage.
In turn, the children of these women, especially young girls, will suffer from a lack of maternal care. Given the strong adherence to traditional family roles in the Third World, young girls will be expected to fill in the gaps by taking on far more domestic chores and child rearing responsibilities when they have siblings, instead of attending school or pursuing economic opportunities. Male children certainly will not be immune to the ill-effects of population growth, but girls in these cultures are impacted by a legacy of gender inequality and that puts them in a far more vulnerable position.
Furthermore, social inequalities are difficult to fix because they are heavily rooted in past injustices that continue to burden the descendants of those discriminated against. In the case of women, countries can address these issues by offering legal protections, forcing economic changes, reducing population growth, and reshaping their cultures.
Unfortunately, those who are threatened by gender inequalities are so because they face other socioeconomic inequalities. Moreover, given increased strain on national economies, natural resources, and civil infrastructure hurts the vulnerable the most, the negative aspects of population growth will impact underprivileged women the hardest.
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