Policies that undermine people’s agency don’t work
Globally, we see more and more governments adopting policies aimed at raising, lowering or maintaining fertility rates (the average number of children born per woman). These policies place the responsibility for changing demographics on women. These policies basically say: if the population grows, women should have fewer children – if the population shrinks, they should have more children. Such policies lead, among other things, to restrictions on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. It also distracts attention from the causes of global problems and shifts blame to them. Fertility rates are neither the problem nor the solution. We need to look at the direct causes and proven solutions to societal challenges.
The report calls for a rethink of how population numbers are framed – urging politicians and media to abandon narratives about population booms and busts. Instead it stresses the importance to protect and promote the right to bodily freedom, access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as the right to choose if, when and how many children we have. This should be central to realising sexual and reproductive rights and empowering women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.