GLOBAL POPULATION MEDIA ANALYSIS
September 16 - 30, 2000
by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk
Communications Consortium Media Center,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20005
THE STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2000
Media outlets in the United States and abroad reported on the Sept. 20 release of the United Nations Population Fund's annual State of World Population report, which focused this year on gender inequality.
The Associated Press reported Sept. 20 that "girls and women the world over are still routinely denied access to education and health care, including control over their reproductive activity, and to equal pay and legal rights." It noted that gender discrimination results in "80 million unwanted pregnancies and 20 million unsafe abortions...millions of beatings and rapes...[and] infanticides and so-called 'honor' killings."
A Sept. 20 Cox News Service story noted inequalities in women's reproductive health, reporting that "the United States and other developed nations must increase their funding for international family planning programs or women will continue to die from a lack of access to reproductive health care."
News services including Reuters, Scripps-Howard and United Press International also reported on findings from the report, titled "Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change." Outlets including the Buffalo News, Chattanooga Times, Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News, Dayton Daily News, Indianapolis Star, New York Times and Washington Times were among newspapers covering the story.
U.S. broadcast coverage of The State of World Population 2000 included segments by several CNN programs and CNN Headline News, and on local network and cable stations in Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Flint (Mich.), Harrisburg (Penn.), Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh/Durham, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C. National and local radio outlets, including ABC, CBS and Pacifica Network News, also covered the release. The report was highlighted on Web homepages of Yahoo, Netscape, CNN.com and ABCNews.com.
Internationally, Agence France Presse, InterPress Service and Xinhua News Service, as well as newspapers including the Business World (Philippines), Business Day (Johannesburg), The Canberra Times (Australia), The Gazette (Montreal), The Guardian (London), The Independent (Bangladesh), The Korea Times, The Toronto Star, and The Straits Times (Singapore) noted UNFPA's findings.
OTHER GLOBAL POPULATION COVERAGE
The Sept. 18 Des Moines Register asked readers if they knew "that the world's population has reached 6 billion and that it is predicted to grow by 2 billion in just 20 years." The question arose in an article introducing a series of "fact boxes" on world population and hunger that will culminate Oct. 12 when the Register covers a World Food Prize awarded in that state to recognize "the work of those who have dedicated their lives and careers to feeding the world."
AARP's Global Aging Report was cited by the Sept. 17 Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), which concluded the "United States isn't alone in wrestling with the problems of how to take care of an aging population and how to maintain a work force as more and more older employees are retired."
Agence France Presse reported Sept. 25 that China "marked the 20th anniversary of its 'One Child' policy by promising to strengthen the fight to keep its vast population under control." The article noted that though China currently "has no laws on population control," it "implements directives" from the government that stipulates "each couple living in the cities should only have one child, unless one or both of the couple are from an ethnic minority or they are both only children."
INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING
The Sept. 16 Boston Globe reported that "a senior Vatican official has quietly proposed an alteration of the church's ban on condom use, saying that prophylactics pose a 'lesser evil' to the spreading of [AIDS]." However, a Vatican official interviewed in a Sept. 20 Associated Press story said the church's position on condoms "hasn't changed, although the church must not be seen as indifferent to AIDS sufferers." The story was also mentioned Sept. 15 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 16 by Scripps Howard News Service and The Washington Times, Sept. 18 by United Press International and Sept. 20 by The New York Times and Palm Beach Post.
Because of "decades of government family planning initiatives," which have resulted in 70 percent of women in Mexico using contraceptives, "extraordinary shifts are occurring in Mexico's population, including a falling birthrate, fewer primary school students and a growing elderly sector," according to the Sept. 23 Florida Times-Union. The story says this provides Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox with "some surprising openings to make life better for Mexicans."
NEWS ABOUT ABORTION
Front-page articles appeared in most major newspapers across the country Sept. 29 detailing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, or RU-486.
RU-486 is "the first alternative to surgical abortion approved in the United States," according to a New York Times story, and "many supporters of abortion rights have said its approval will transform the struggle over legal abortion, making the procedure more accessible and more private, and stall efforts by opponents of abortion to identify women who are having the procedure and doctors who are providing it."
The Washington Post reported that the RU-486 ruling "quickly became part of the presidential campaign," with Texas Gov. George W. Bush calling the decision "wrong" and Vice President Gore saying it "is not about politics, but the health and safety of American women." The Los Angeles Times noted that RU-486 has "already been approved in 18 countries, and more than 500,000 women have used it in Europe alone."
U.S. POPULATION ASSISTANCE
A Sept. 23 National Journal article reported that "both sides on the international family-planning issue are bracing for a [budget] fight - and another possible back-room deal that may have more to do with election-year politics than with the underlying issue." It detailed the "complicated certification process" for foreign NGOs currently receiving U.S. family planning funds, interviewed U.S. NGOs that support restoration of funding to 1995 levels without the global gag rule, and interviewed U.S. policymakers on both sides of the "family planning feud." The article noted that "family planning groups hope that the White House will stick to its promise to oppose the certification requirement this year," but that "the faith of these groups has been tempered by last year's surprise compromise as well as by the Administration's lackluster performance during the House debate on foreign aid in July."
The Sept. 29 Washington Times reported that "Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the Clinton administration...of illegally using taxpayer dollars 'to finance covert abortion clinics in foreign countries,'" in an article on the outcomes of a GAO audit of adherence to the global gag rule restrictions attached to last year's international family planning funds.
OPINIONS AND EDITORIALS
A Sept. 29 Judy Mann column in The Washington Post titled "No Gag Rule! No Excuses!" called on President Clinton "to go to the mat to get as much funding for [international family planning] programs as he can and to exorcise the gag rule from our foreign policy before it becomes an entrenched, and disgraceful, tool of know-nothing American colonialism."
The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) published a Sept. 30 editorial that argued, "as a global leader in family planning assistance, the United States should be able to put its funding at or near where it was five year ago - $542 million," because "nearly 600,000 women die each year in pregnancy and childbirth" and "nearly 150,000 women seek planning help, but lack access to services." The editorial calls on the House of Representatives to "stow the irrelevant anti-abortion arguments and get on with adequately funding global family planning assistance."
The Sept. 29 Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an op-ed by the Izaak Walton League's Jim Baird emphasizing the need for funding international family planning programs because, in part, "there is no greater threat to the natural resources that we are pledged to protect than the demands of growing human populations."
Several editorials appeared about findings from UNFPA's State of World Population 2000 report. A Sept. 23 Dallas Morning News editorial noted that the report "found sex discrimination, including violence against women, to be an underlying and pervasive problem hindering global development efforts." The editorial also mentioned that to eradicate inequalities in women's reproductive health, "American funding of international family planning efforts is important, and Congress should support the more generous Senate levels of funding in the foreign aid bill," though noting that "more sweeping efforts are needed."
Chicago Tribune editorial board member Steve Chapman concluded "what women want is not different from what men want - the right to live their lives as they see fit, without being mistreated or ordered around by those who unjustly hold power over them," in a Sept. 24 commentary that detailed many of UNFPA's findings.
A Sept. 25 editorial by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), which was distributed by the Associated Press and Scripps Howard News Service and reprinted in several outlets, emphasized that the subject of gender inequality "is so broad as to be numbing, yet the U.N. Population Fund is remarkably specific in its suggestions for change," which include donor nations giving at "promised levels" for "reproductive health, population programs and education."
A Sept. 23 commentary by columnist Pat Swift in The Buffalo News noted that "the world pays a heavy price, billions of dollars each year, for its wholesale discrimination against women," and that "the low status of women's health and education is impeding development in poor countries and is costly to businesses and governments, even in developed countries."
The above analysis was written by Ketayoun Darvich-Kodjouri and Kathy Bonk at the Communications Consortium Media Center, 1200 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005, 202/326-8700.
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