December 2010's Edition of
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Child Marriage Bill Defeated in the House
On December 16th the House of Representatives failed to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, which the Senate had approved earlier by unanimous vote. The bill, sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would have authorized the President to provide assistance to prevent the incidence of child marriage and promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls. The State Department would have been required to come up with a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of young girls who are at risk of child marriage. Although the Senate had approved the measure unanimously, the bill failed to get the 2/3rds votes needed to pass it under an expedited House procedure, after the Republican leadership urged its defeat.
Keeping Women’s Rights in Human Rights Day
December 10th was Human Rights Day and it marked the end of the 16 Days to End Violence against Women campaign. The campaign, which takes place every year between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th, and Human Rights Day on December 10th, emphasizes that violence against women, in any of 16 forms, is a violation of human rights. But more than just a human rights issue, violence against women is an economic and social problem that has widespread implications. Violence against women takes many forms, including domestic violence, female genital mutilation/ cutting, child marriage, human trafficking, 'honor' killings, and sexual violence. The outgoing U.S. Congress debated three bills that would have made a significant contribution to ending violence against women, including the International Violence Against Women Act. Women's issues, unfortunately, were not high enough on the Congress' 'lame duck' agenda; Congress adjourned without giving final approval to any of these measures.
3rd Annual Global Population Speak Out Scheduled for February 2011
Next month, the Population Institute will sponsor the 3rd annual Global Population Speak Out, which enlists concerned citizens, ecologists, environmentalists and parliamentarians from over 40 countries to talk publicly about the impact of population growth on the future of the planet and the benefits of extending voluntary family planning services. Participants in the Speak Out write opinion pieces for newspapers, magazines and online publications, and appear on radio and television shows. Participants this year will include the President of the European Section of the Society for Conservation Biology, the founder of 34 Million Friends of UNFPA, and the executive director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development. More than 400 people are expected to participate. If you or someone you know are interested in participating, please visit the GPSO homepage http://www.populationspeakout.org/ and pledge to "speak out" this February.
Worldwatch Institute Releases Report on Population and Climate Change
The Worldwatch Institute released in December a special report (Population, Climate Change, and Women's Lives) that pulls together the latest scientific evidence to show how addressing population could help the world meet the challenge posed by climate change. The report references the earlier Brian O'Neill study, which indicated that slowing population growth could provide 16–29% of the emissions reductions thought to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change. The report recommends a three-part strategy for reducing population growth: expanding family planning, promoting gender equity, and improving educational attainment levels for girls and young women.
Effort to Boost International Family Planning Falls Short
On December 21, Congress took final action on a temporary funding measure that would fund the federal government through March 4, 2011. The stop gap funding measure was passed after the Senate failed to approve a House-passed omnibus appropriation bill that would have boosted funding in fiscal year 2011 to $710 million, a $62 million increase above the 2010 level. Passage of the temporary funding measure means that funding for international family planning will remain at the 2010 level ($648 million) until March 4, or until the new Congress passes a permanent appropriation bill. It's anticipated that the new Congress will act to cut funding for a wide range of federal programs, including international family planning.
IFPRI Study Links Population and Food Security
A December report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) makes clear that there is a close linkage between food security and population growth. The report looked at a range of U.N. population projections and their impact on food security. The report, Food Security, Farming, and Climate Change: Scenarios, Results, and Policy Options found that "real agricultural prices will likely increase between now and 2050, the result of growing incomes and population as well as the negative productivity effects of climate change." The report suggested that slowing population growth would help to improve food security and moderate future food inflation.