"GENDER EQUALITY" PARTLY TO BLAME FOR FERTILITY DECLINE, SAYS UN OFFICIAL

Autor: Austin Ruse Fuente: C-FAM (Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute)

In a speech delivered this Spring that was largely ignored by the news
media, the United Nation's chief demographer declared that the very
existence of some nations has now been endangered by fertility decline,
and the international community's insistent call for "gender equality" is
making the problem even worse.

According to Dr. Joseph Chamie, Director of the Population Division of
the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, "A growing number of
countries view their low birth rates with the resulting population decline
and ageing to be a serious crisis, jeopardizing the basic foundations of
the nation and threatening its survival. Economic growth and vitality,
defense, and pensions and health care for the elderly, for example, are
all areas of major concern."

Chamie, who was speaking in his personal capacity at the Population
Association of America's annual meeting, asserted that one-third of the
countries in the world now have "below replacement" level fertility, which
means that women have fewer than 2.1 children on average. In 15 countries,
the fertility rate has shrunk to l.5 children or less.

In an unprecedented statement for a high-ranking UN official, Chamie
claimed that the drive for gender equality is partly to blame for low
fertility, stating that, "While many governments, intergovernmental
organizations, non-governmental organizations and individuals may strongly
support gender equality at work and in the home as a fundamental principle
and desirable goal, it is not at all evident how having men and women
participate equally in employment, parenting and household
responsibilities will raise low levels of fertility. On the contrary, the
equal participation of men and women in the labor force, child rearing and
housework points precisely in the opposite direction, i.e., below
replacement fertility. And this is in fact precisely what is being
observed today in an increasing number of countries."

Chamie also noted the some governments, especially in the developed
world, may be concerned about appearing hypocritical if they seek to
increase their own fertility rates, while at the same time working to
decrease fertility in the developing world. According to Chamie,
"Understandably, governments are reluctant to be seen as encouraging
citizens to breed for the sake of the country. This is especially true for
governments providing international assistance to family planning programs
in countries aiming to reduce their comparatively higher rates of
fertility and population."

In his address, Chamie investigated the effectiveness of a number of
governmental responses to fertility decline, including promoting marriage
and childbearing, reducing the costs of child rearing, and adapting work
schedules to family life. He was not optimistic concerning these policies,
concluding that, "the current and foreseeable efforts of most governments
to raise their current low fertility rates to replacement levels seem
highly unlikely."
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