The World at 7 Billion People: Highlighting the Power of Women and Girls

Sep 20, 2011


On September 13, NASW staff members from the Human Rights and International Affairs department attended “The World at 7 Billion People,” an event sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), National Geographic, and other governmental organizations. In late October 2011, it is expected that the world’s population will reach 7 billion people. In light of this, the campaign promotes the idea that women and girls are critical engines of change in an expanding world. 

The themes and messages of the 7 Billion Actions campaign resonate with the social work profession: breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality; promoting progress and empowerment of women, girls, and youth; advocating for the right to access health and reproductive health care; and addressing the needs of aging populations worldwide.  The 7 Billion Actions campaign is a call to action for individuals, governments, NGOs, educators, funders, and businesses to get involved in a global campaign of change.  

Event speakers and youth advocates spotlighted ways for investing in women and girls as both cost-effective and essential to solving the challenges facing today’s world. When women are healthy, educated and can contribute fully to society, they trigger progress in their families, communities and nations, improving prospects for current and future generations.

Event speakers included:

  • Lois Quam, Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative, U.S. Department of State
  • Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
  • Kathy Calvin, Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation
  • Natalie Imbruglia, Singer, Actress and Virgin Unite Ambassador to end fistula.
  • Monique Coleman, Actress (High School Musical) and United Nations Youth Champion
  • Ronan Farrow, Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues, U.S. Department of State;
  • Alexandra Garita, Program Officer for International Policy, International Women’s Health Coalition;
  • Assumpta Namusoke, Advocate for PACE Uganda, an affiliate of PSI, a global health organization; 
  • Kakenya Ntaiya, President and Founder of The Kakenya Center for Excellence.
  • Ashley Judd, Actress, Humanitarian and PSI Global Ambassador

NASW staff noted that the many dynamic speakers at the event recognized the power of individuals to create hope and positive change and delivered many inspiring messages.

For example, Don Steinberg, Deputy Administrator, USAID, read a quote from a Robert F. Kennedy speech made in South Africa in the 1966 addressing the issue of apartheid:

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Social workers and educators can call attention to this campaign, and help ordinary citizens become aware of the impact they can have on their communities, as well as influencing their governments for positive policy changes.  To read stories about others making an impact and to add your own story, visit 7 Billion Actions.

For more information on NASW’s work on international issues, please visit here.


Watch the video of the event by clicking here. Send it around to friends and colleagues, as well!