Bill Nye: Empowering Women Lowers the Birthrate
If you are like me, then you have just finished binge watching Bill Nye’s new show, Bill Nye Saves the World, a Netflix original series.Bill Nye talks about many topics the public needs to know more about, like climate change and the sexual spectrum. The last episode in the season, “Earth’s People Problem”, may be one of the most important ones to watch, though.
In 1965, the Earth’s human population reached 3 billion people. But today the Earth has almost 7.5 billion people.
“By the time this show is over that you are now watching, there will be another 4,000 people,” Bill Nye says. “And by the end of next week from when you’re watching, there’ll be another million.”
Why is this a concern? Because everyone on Earth uses up the Earth’s resources. Humans need to make farmland to create food and cities to work and live in, which destroys habitats and depletes the Earth’s natural resources. It has reached the point where we use more of the Earth’s resources per year than the Earth makes per year. Which means we will run out.
This is not the first time humans have faced the problem of too many people, however.
“We are clever,” Bill Nye says. “We keep finding ways to stretch our resources to support more and more people. We are figuring out ways to grow more food with less land. We’re developing renewable resources of energy.”
But he quickly adds that we still have problems with getting enough resources and distributing those resources well.
“Close to a billion of us are undernourished. We can produce enough food for everybody, but we’re not good at distributing it.”
The growing population problem is a complicated subject. It’s more than the aging population thanks to advances made in medical care.
“I’m sure you’re gathering population growth is bound up with lots of other difficult issues. The way we treat the environment…women’s rights, access to healthcare and contraception… Even the word “overpopulation” has a lot of baggage. Who is the over?
But Bill has a solution to help with this concern: empowering women.
Bill Nye says that by empowering women, we can lower the birth rate and keep population growth manageable. No matter where they are, in developing or developed countries, in rural or urban areas, when women get equal education and equal opportunities that men get, they have fewer kids. The kids they do have, have a higher quality of life because they have more resources to distribute between fewer kids.
Evidence to support this is clear in many parts of the world, including India, where less than 25% of women are employed.
“My mother wasn’t allowed to study after a certain class because she was a girl,” says Preeti, a systems engineer at Infosys.
But that is changing. India’s tech giant, Infosys, is making an effort to hire more women. One third of their workforce, or 68,000 employees, are women. Progress in gender equality is evident in companies like Infosys, and it is making a difference in the society and the birth rate.
“Being educated, it means people are family planning, and it’s really good because they can think about the overpopulation and the problem that it causes to the Earth,” says Preeti.
Giving women education and careers is an ethical and highly beneficial way to lower the birth rate. Not only do women get more educated about things like contraception, but because of careers, they often choose to have kids later on in life, which usually means they have fewer kids.
One of the best ways to ensure a higher standard of living for everyone in the future, without ruining the environment even more, is by empowering women. You can help promote gender equality by signing up for the Call Congress Everyday Challenge, where you call your representatives everyday for 1 week about bills like the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (This takes about two minutes a day). Together, we can save the world two minutes at a time.