Did y'all know one of the biggest discussions when Earth Day originated in 1970 was the now-taboo population boom? It's true! Since the 60's, the world's population has doubled to over 6 billion and the environmental, social, and humanitarian crises we're facing today can be largely attributed to unchecked growth in our numbers. This topic is uncomfy for people to talk about because all the issues surrounding it: access to family planning, religion, and gender inequality. The documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion aims to end this silence before it's too late. By bringing attention to the crisis at hand, Mother sets out to prove that empowering women through education is the key to our survival.
We all know the resources on this planet are finite and running out. Oil is peaking, fresh water is limited, and nearly 1 billion people suffer from chronic hunger. The dichotomy between consumption and population is at the core of the debate over sustainability. The developed nations of the world are pointing their fingers at over-population while the developing nations blame over-consumption. Mother points out a rather startling fact: America is the third most populous nation behind China and India, but our level of consumption is through the roof. If every citizen on this planet lived the American lifestyle, it would take 6 Earths to regenerate the resources spent. India's lifestyle, on the other hand, could theoretically sustain a population of 8 billion.
But Mother isn't about pinning the blame on one people, place, or lifestyle. Pulled from the social science theories of Riane Eisler, the documentary has an educational rather than preachy tone. Turning to experts in the field such as Paul Erhlich, Susan Davis, and Aminata Toure, Mother highlights not only the problems we must tackle but what is being done to solve them.
The numbers are grim. 130 million youths do not receive an education and of those, 70% are girls. 215 million women world wide don't use family planning and therefor have larger families than they desired. If those 215 million women had access to contraceptives, the population would see a reduced growth rate of 28%.
Mother looks to BRAC and Population Media Center, organizations dedicated to empowering women. Educated girls will get married later in life, have fewer children, and raise healthier families all of which contribute to a more sustainable population.
I have to give the documentary props for featuring a diverse range of people: women of color were not relegated to the typical role of victim we see far too often. People like Aminata Toure and Esraa Bani were presented as women with the agency and drive to incite real change. My eyes were definitely opened by the figures. The overall message, though, is one of hope. There is hope for civilization if we are able to improve the status of women world wide. This point really resonated with me in light of the recent war on women at home. Mother, directed and edited by Christophe Fauchere, is available for purchase or rental on the film's website.