Population First is a communication and advocacy initiative for a balanced, planned and stable population. It was registered in March 2002 under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950. Our key objectives are to help eliminate the falling sex ratio in India’s population, sensitize the youth and media to gender issues and improve the quality of health and standard of life of India’s rural population with a special focus on women and youth.
In the first year of its existence, the organization focused on gaining the support of various institutions and prominent individuals of considerable influence, as reflected in the profile of our Board of Trustees and Advisory Councilmembers. Population First continues to receive tremendous support from leaders from the fields of business, media and academia.
Population First believes that numbers are not the issue but the unequal social development and gendered mindsets are responsible for the poor demographic indices be it maternal mortality, child mortality or the falling sex ratios.
It was observed that states with poor social development and gender indicators were also the States having poor demographic indices. The euphemistically termed BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and the States carved out from them ) and Orissa have low female literacy, work participation rate and health indicators. They also have high total fertility rates.
Similarly States with good economic social development which have been successful in promoting a small family norm have been facing the problem of falling sex ratios as the basic gendered mind sets which promote son preference remained the same.
The large base of young people in the population could be an asset or a liability depending on how we invest in them. It is estimated that 60% of our population is below 35 years of age in India. The choices they make with regard to their sexual and reproductive behavior would have a direct bearing on population growth and the development of the country.
Apart from this, India also has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world and major sections of society still practice child marriage/early marriages with 47 % of the women getting married before the age of 18. (http://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures)
About 19 per cent of young women in developing countries become pregnant before age 18 Early marriages are not only a threat to the health and survival of women but also impart great momentum to population growth by replacing generations at shorter intervals. (https://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/swp2013/EN-SWOP2013-final.pdf)
It is little wonder then that India ranks poorly in the gender gap index, standing at a rank of 101 among 136 countries ranked in 2013. (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2013.pdf)
Population First, focusses on the gendered mindset catalyzing the above issues, which undermines the value ofgirls and women, promotes discrimination against them and justifies gender based violence. The challenge is to change those mindsets.
Population First with its communication and advocacy skills works to create an environment where health and population issues are pursued from a gender and social development perspective. Its field based intervention "Action for Mobilization of Community Health Initiatives"(AMCHI) demonstrates the effectiveness of such an approach
Population First also leverages its influence in the media and advertising to influence the influencers to change the way India treats its women by changing the way media reports on gender issues and advertisements portray girls and women in their communication through its flagship program, LAADLI.