This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gates Foundation's Focus on Family Planning

I have been periodically critical of the Gates Foundation for its emphasis on saving children's lives without necessarily balancing that with preventing unwanted pregnancies. I appreciate, then, that the folks at Population Matters pointed to a recent interview with Melinda Gates, in which she reaffirms her commitment to providing women in developing countries, especially in Africa, with methods of birth control. She notes, for example, that methods like Depo-Provera are not as readily available as they used to be, whereas  condoms tend to be ubiquitous, due in particular to the US government's PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) program. The problem with condoms in places like Africa is that if a woman asks her husband to use one he may interpret that to mean that she suspects him of extra-marital affairs. In other words, the condom is associated with sexually transmitted disease more than being thought of as method of birth control. Besides, any method that depends on male cooperation has a markedly lower chance of success.

I appreciate the fact that Melinda Gates is once again speaking out about this issue, as she did quite forcefully three years ago. But, of course, it shouldn't be up to a single philanthropic organization to be leading this charge. The UNFPA, whose mission involves helping women have the number of children they want, needs more resources from the rich countries in order to move forward on this front. The issues surrounding population growth are not over, by any stretch of the imagination.

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