Our world of eight billion: what does it mean for women’s rights?

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Our world of eight billion: what does it mean for women’s rights?

What happened?

Launch of the UNFPA’s State of World Population Report “8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities: The case for rights and choices.

Current population and climate discussions overlook women’s rights

Fertility rates cannot be blamed for climate change as the infringement of women’s rights continues, experts said at the Friends of Europe event, entitled ‘Our world of eight billion: what does it mean for women’s rights?’. The global launch of the 2023 State of World Population report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) called for solidarity in promoting equality and reproductive rights.

“[Many people] blame fertility rates for the climate crisis… That is a fallacy,” said Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, presenting the report ‘8 Billion Lives, Infinite Possibilities.

Addressing the issue of ageing societies, she added: “Blaming women for producing an insufficient supply of babies ignores a lot of much more viable solutions.” 

Recommendations put forward at the event included gender parity in the workplace, affordable childcare and migration policies that allow women to legally integrate in the workforce, but before any of this, we must start by asking the right questions.

“Intergenerational solidarity and intergenerational fairness” are needed to protect the rights of women and girls in a world of eight billion, said Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography. “Demography transcends borders,” she explained.

 Whilst inadequate childcare resources prevent many mothers in Europe from working, imbalances in the workforce mean that 90% of the people caring for an aging EU population are women.

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Photo credits: UNFPA



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  • The care sector is currently dominantly female – what does a growing and simultaneously ageing society mean for women rights in this regard? How can efforts to improve women’s rights, their access to the labour market and a fairer distribution of informal care provision be better coordinated at global, regional and national levels?
  • How does a world of 8 billion impact Europe’s demographic challenges, the future policy portfolio and the role women and girls should play? How are their rights linked to the opportunities that a growing world population presents?
  • Looking at the EU Youth Action Plan and similar initiatives being implemented around the world, which opportunities does a growing population offer to engage, empower and connect young people, especially girls to foster their engagement in democratic processes globally?
End of discussion


Photo of Natalia Kanem
Natalia Kanem

Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Show more information on Natalia Kanem

As the Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr Natalia Kanem heads the United Nations sexual and reproductive health and rights agency. Kanem started her career in academia at the Johns Hopkins and Columbia University schools of medicine and public health. She first joined UNFPA as the country representative in the United Republic of Tanzania and went on to become the deputy executive director. Previously, Kanem also served as the founding president of ELMA Philanthropies, Inc., the deputy vice-president of the Ford Foundation’s peace and social justice programmes, and a senior associate at the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies.

Dubravka Šuica
Dubravka Šuica

European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

Show more information on Dubravka Šuica

Dubravka Šuica leads the Commission’s work on demography, deliberative democracy, Conference on the Future of Europe, giving people a say in how the Union is run and what it does. She is in charge of devising innovative and transformative policies to address the demographic transition, including adequately addressing the needs of an ageing population. She coordinates the intersectionality of demographic challenges and opportunities, from its territorial dimension, to harnessing Europe’s human capital, the work-life balance to the digital transition and climate change, as well as the global demographic transition. She furthermore leads the European Commission’s work on children’s rights and child protection, both inside the EU and globally. Šuica is a former member of the European and Croatian parliaments. She served as the vice-president of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe for 10 years and was the first female to serve as mayor of the city of Dubrovnik.

Peter Piot
Peter Piot

Special Advisor on COVID-19 to the President of the European Commission and former executive director of UNAIDS

Show more information on Peter Piot

Dr Peter Piot is currently the Special Advisor on COVID-19 to the President of the European Commission, the EU Chief Scientific Advisor Epidemics and the Handa Professor of Global Health. Concurrently, he is a visiting professor at the Rega Institute, KU Leuven, the University of Antwerp and the National University of Singapore. He was the founding executive director of UNAIDS and former under-secretary-general of the United Nations, as well as the former director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In 1976, he co-discovered the Ebola virus and has led pioneering research on HIV, women’s health and infectious diseases.

Photo of Camilla Brückner
Camilla Brückner

Director of the UN Office in Brussels and Representative of the UN System in the EU

Show more information on Camilla Brückner

As the Director of the UN Office in Brussels and Representative of the UN System in the EU, Camilla Brückner is the chief representative and coordinator of all UN agencies within the European Union. Prior to her current position, she served the UN as the director of the UNDP Nordic Representative Office, as manager of the UN City and joint UN functions in Copenhagen, and as deputy chief of staff and deputy director of the UNDP Executive Office. A diplomat, Brückner has also served in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more than 13 years, notably as the deputy permanent representative in New York.

Amana Ferro
Amana Ferro

Senior Policy Adviser at the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network

Show more information on Amana Ferro

At the ERGO Network, Amana Ferro focuses specifically on EU strategies and processes in the area of Roma poverty and social inclusion, such as the European Semester, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals. Ferro has nearly 20 years of experience in human rights and social policy at the national and EU levels. Before joining the ERGO Network, she was a senior policy officer with the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), prior to which she was a European advocacy manager with Marie Stopes International (MSI).

Jan-Willem Scheijgrond
Jan-Willem Scheijgrond

Vice President for Global Government & Public Affairs at Royal Philips

Show more information on Jan-Willem Scheijgrond

As Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, Jan-Willem Scheijgrond leads Royal Philips’s global government and stakeholder relations network that addresses societal challenges, in particular the impact of increasing geopolitical tensions, trade, digital transformation, and the transformation towards a more resilient and sustainable healthcare system. He is also a Co-Founder of the WEF Partnership for Health System Resilience and Sustainability and serves as the Commissioner on the Reproductive Justice Partnership of the UNFPA. Concurrently, he chairs the United Nations Global Compact Netherlands. Previously, Scheijgrond worked for the United Nations Environment Programme and served as a senior director at Philips’s Corporate Sustainability Office.

Photo of Silvia Giorguli
Silvia Giorguli

President of El Colegio de México

Show more information on Silvia Giorguli

Silvia Giorguli’s research focuses on international migration from Mexico to the United States, transitions to adulthood in Latin America and the effects of demographic change. She currently participates as a researcher in the Mexican Migration Project with the universities of Princeton, Guadalajara and Brown, and co-chairs the Central and North American Working Group on Migration. Before assuming her current role as the President of El Colegio de México, Giorguli served as the director of the Center for Demographic, Urban and Environmental Studies, president of the Mexican Society of Demography and founding director of the magazine, Coyuntura Demográfica. Revista sobre los procesos demográficos en México hoy.



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