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World Population Day awards celebrate the good news!

10 July 2021

From Meghan and Harry to rural Kenya, Change Champions are honoured

To mark the UN’s annual World Population Day on July 11th, campaigning charity Population Matters is giving awards to individuals and organisations across the globe for their progressive, effective and brave work, promoting reproductive rights, defending the environment and enlightening the public about the challenges we face and the solutions that are available.

Recipients include a teenage girl fighting child marriage in Zimbabwe, the UK author of a novel addressing the childfree choice, a feminist journalist in Bangladesh, a US website measuring individual’s environmental footprint – and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for announcing their choice to limit their family to two children.

There are nine awards in total (full list in notes). Each recipient has received a uniquely-designed Change Champion award from Population Matters, and a £500 donation to the charity or cause of their choice.

Comments from three winners:

Women’s Champion winner Wendo Aszed is the founder of a women’s empowerment and community health project in rural Kenya. Wendo said:  

“Thank you Population Matters for this award, it means a lot to me and the community we serve. Women in rural areas face socio-cultural barriers that influence their utilization of SRHR services, the world is changing and so must the options women have in ensuring they get the highest standards of health attainable. Reproductive health for us, is not an option, it is a priority.”

Choice Champion winner Emma Gannon is author of Olive, a best-selling novel addressing the choice to be childfree. Emma said:

“I wrote OLIVE as a way to connect with all the women in my life and those who may read the book: the women who choose to be mothers, the women who long to be mothers, the women who aren’t sure and the women who don’t want to be mothers at all. I am thrilled to be receiving this award by Population Matters, I’m in awe of the work they do in bringing important themes to the forefront of conversation.”

Best media story winner is Bangladeshi journalist Kohinur Khyum Tithila, whose Dhaka Tribune story  on being a childfree Bangladeshi woman was just one of a series she has written on feminist issues. Kohinur said:

“I received a lot of flak on social media when the story was published. However, I was surprised to see how many people, both men and women, said that my story resonates with their stories. Women opting out from motherhood are not emotionally stunted, not ripping apart the fabric of the society and not pushing the human race to extinction. I know Population Matters has often encountered the same claims, and that it seeks to celebrate the choice to have a small family and be childfree.”

Population Matters Head of Campaigns Alistair Currie said:

“There is a lot of doom and gloom this year, while sometimes people associate the whole population issue with negative images and preconceptions. In truth, it’s about brilliant, creative, empowering and enlightening actions which improve people’s lives. Our very worthy award winners from across the planet and every walk of life are all doing what they do because they have such positive effects in themselves. It really is our privilege to support and publicise them in any way.

“What they do also helps to promote and enable people to choose smaller families, and so reduce population growth and ease the pressure on our planet. That’s a win-win situation, and we hope these good news stories will inspire people, and cheer them up in difficult times.”

Population Matters (PM) is a UK-based charity campaigning internationally to secure a sustainable human population through ethical, choice-based means, to protect the natural environment and improve people’s lives. Acting on abundant and authoritative scientific evidence of the impact of human population growth on crises such as climate change and biodiversity loss, it promotes sustainable consumption and the choice to have a smaller family. PM campaigns in support of women’s empowerment, modern family planning, universal high quality education, and poverty alleviation – all proven, positive solutions to unsustainable population growth.

Contact: Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications


T: 0208 123 9170 (24hrs)

Full list of Change Champion Award Winners:

Young Campaigner: Natsiraishe Maritsa. A teenage taekwondo enthusiast promoting girls’ self-esteem and fighting child marriage in Zimbabwe. Her prize money has been donated to her own Vulnerable Underage People’s Auditorium project.

Earth Defenders: KOMB GREEN Solutions. KOMB GREEN is an environmental conservation and regeneration project in the informal settlement of Korogocho, Kenya. The local team, led by at-risk and street-involved youth, has transformed an area of wasteland on the banks of the Nairobi River into a community park. They have planted fruit and bamboo trees to help address climate change, welcomed 300 children to a new children’s playpark and begun an organic vegetable garden to provide food donations for families in need. They have also distributed condoms and sanitary and hygiene equipment to keep the team safe during the first wave of the pandemic. Prize money donated to KOMB GREEN.

Women’s Champion: Wendo Aszed. Wendo is the founder and director of Dandelion Africa, which runs programmes in rural Kenya to improve the Sexual reproductive health and economic livelihoods of women and youth. Prize money donated to Dandelion.

Choice Champion: Emma Gannon. Author of Olive, and provider of a platform for childfree women. Prize money donated to Pregnant Then Screwed.

Online Campaign: Global Footprint Network’s Footprint Calculator. provides people with a personalised measure of their personal environmental impact, in an attractive and user-friendly format. Global Footprint Network (GFN) is a research organization changing how the world manages its natural resources and responds to climate change. It produces detailed and authoritative data on environmental impact at individual, national and global level, used by governments, academics, NGOs and individuals. Prize money donated to GFN.

Shining a Light Award (best film, book or TV programme): 8 Billion Angels. A documentary film examining the impact of population and consumption on our environment, and the available solutions. Prize money donated to Earth Overshoot, a non-profit organisation created by the film’s producer.

Media story: Kohinur Khyum Tithila. In addition to her winning story (entitled I’m a Bangladeshi woman who decided to be child-free. We exist.) Kohinur has written extensively in the Dhaka Tribune, Ms. Magazine and elsewhere on women’s issues. Prize money donated to Ms. Magazine.

Special Award; Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Sussexes have chosen, and publicly declared, their intention to limit their family to two children. The Duke first mentioned their intention to do so in a Vogue interview with Population Matters patron Jane Goodall in 2019, speaking of his love for nature and sense that our natural environment is borrowed. He said we all “should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.” The Duchess subsequently confirmed that intention in the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Population Matters Campaigner: Stella Wright. Stella is a leading member of the Population Matters London Group, managing social media and coordinating other activities.

135-137 Station Road, London E4 6AG

Charity no: 1114109


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