On the 20th anniversary of "world population day", the United Nations has called for greater investment in the education of girls and women to help end poverty.

The world's population has reached 6.8 billion people and it continues to grow by approximately 80 million each year.

At this rate, by 2050, the global population will reach 9.1 billion - 36 per cent more than today's population.

This growth is accompanied by unparalleled challenges like climate change, food and water shortages, and a severe energy crisis.

The focus of this year's UN Population Fund report is 'fight poverty, educate girls'.

It says that approximately one-quarter of the over 600 million girls in the developing world, are not enrolled in school - and the ones that do enroll rarely make it through secondary level education. 

With this rapid increase, and dwindling natural resources required to secure humanity's needs, could empowering women help slow population growth?

Inside Story presenter Sohail Rahman is joined by Azza Karam, a senior adviser at the United Nations Population Fund, Dave Gardner, a filmmaker currently working on a documentary called Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, and Pronab Sen, India's chief statistician and a member of India's national statistical commission.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Sunday, July 12, 2009.

Source: Al Jazeera