On this day some 26 years ago, a subsidiary organ of the United Nations called the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) formed what is now known as World Population Day. This day seeks to focus attention on the issue of rising population by educating young people and providing them with access to “high quality sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, so that they can make informed and voluntary choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.”
But, wait. Hold up. What exactly is it meant by “high quality sexual and reproductive health services”? Well, in the eyes of the UN, this essentially means providing young people with the knowledge of all kinds of birth control. But just hold on, because it doesn’t stop there. Not only does the UNFPA want to educate people of my generation on these contraceptives, but also to provide us access to them to “ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and that every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
Alright UN, I see where you’re coming from. Wanting to educate young people on the possible dangers of rising world population might not necessarily be a bad thing. However, doing so through pushing contraceptives is where I think we fall short. As a young Catholic millennial, who is to say that providing us with access to unlimited amounts of birth control is the answer? What if, instead of masking our fertility and treating it like some kind of disease that needs to be contained, we actually got to the root of how our bodies work?
The UN sees poverty in the world and places the blame on the lack of access to contraceptives. However, the root of the problem isn’t the lack of contraceptives but the lack of fully understanding our bodies and fertility cycles, and respecting each other as humans. And this, my friends, is where understanding and using NFP can make a world of difference.
In light of all of this, I propose that instead of pushing contraceptives, the UN promotes fertility awareness and NFP instead. This way, we wouldn’t be altering women’s fertility to filling them with artificial hormones. Instead, educate woman about their bodies’ natural cycles and empower all young people to take control of their sexuality. Not only is this healthier and safer, but it will also awaken self-respect and respect for each other, which just may lead to better solutions to the big problems in our world.
Because at the end of the day, our fertility isn’t some condition that needs to be fixed, but instead a beautiful gift from God. And ultimately, that is what we should be celebrating today.