World Population Day: July 11, 2020

The History of World Population Day

In 1989, the United Nations commemorating the first official World Population Day, on July 11, two years after the global population hit the 5 billion milestone. It has been recognized every year since, always with a different theme. This year’s theme is “Putting the brakes on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now.”

In 1994, the UN held the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. This conference was a major milestone because it officially recognized that reproductive health and women’s empowerment are inextricably linked, and it formally established intolerance for anything but a rights-based approach to tackling population issues.

Today, there has been considerable progress in increasing access to contraceptives, eliminating preventable maternal deaths, and ending gender-based violence. However, there are still many barriers to meeting these needs, and these barriers have been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How We Help

Our advocacy work focuses on increasing the United States investment in international family planning funding to $1.6 billion—our country’s “fair share” to fill the gap in reproductive health care, including family planning, experienced in the world’s aid-recipient countries.

Of that $1.6 billion, we ask that $111 million be allocated toward the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). UNFPA is the world’s largest provider of family planning services. Its work increases contraceptive access and other reproductive health services, including safe delivery; eliminates child marriage, sex selection during pregnancy, and female genital mutilation; and offers critical services in humanitarian crises, often when no other group or agency is there to help. Under the Trump administration, the United States stopped funding UNFPA altogether, making the U.S. the only country in the world to refuse funding for non-budgetary reasons.

In addition to working to increase foreign assistance for family planning, we work to end two harmful U.S. policies: the Global Gag Rule and the Helms Amendment. These two policies prevent health providers from offering patients comprehensive reproductive health care in order to continue receiving U.S. aid.

  • The Helms Amendment prohibits U.S. aid from being used to provide safe abortion overseas.
  • The Global Gag Rule goes even further—it prohibits U.S. global health assistance from going to foreign organizations that provide abortion procedures, counseling, or referrals, or advocate for more progressive abortion laws in their own countries—even if they do so with their own non-U.S. money

Ways You Can Help