North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the latest male leader to address his country’s declining birth rate. Last Sunday, he spoke at the country’s first National Mothers Meeting in eleven years, encouraging North Korea’s women to have more babies.
“Stopping the decline in birth rates and providing good childcare and education are all our family affairs that we should solve together with our mothers,” the 39-year old leader said in Pyongyang.
He went on to say that women had a duty to address the fall in the country’s birthrates to strengthen national power.
During his speech, he was seen dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief.
The population trends in North Korea are difficult to assess due to the limited statistics disclosed. South Korea’s government believes the North’s fertility rate has dropped steadily in the past decade.
In 2014, a woman’s average number of babies over her lifetime in North Korea stood at 1.88. Last year, the figure dropped to 1.79.
Kim Jong Un isn’t the only world leader publicly pressuring women to have more children.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged women to have as many as eight children and to make large families the “norm”.
Addressing the World Russian People’s Council in Moscow on Tuesday, Putin said increasing Russia’s population will be “our goal for the coming decades.”
“Many of our ethnic groups have preserved the tradition of having strong multigenerational families with four, five, or even more children. Let us remember that Russian families, many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had seven, eight, or even more children.”
“Let us preserve and revive these excellent traditions. Large families must become the norm, a way of life for all Russia’s peoples. The family is not just the foundation of the state and society, it is a spiritual phenomenon, a source of morality.”
In October, Chinese president Xi Jinping said women must establish a “new trend of family” and have more babies in order to address the country’s aging population and declining birth rates.
According to the president, it is important for Chinese women to “actively cultivate a new culture of marriage and childbearing and strengthen guidance on young people’s view on marriage, childbirth and family.”
For Xi, more effort needed to be put into encouraging women towards these aspirations to promote “family harmony, social harmony, national development and national progress.”
It was only in 2016 when China ended its one-child policy, allowing couples to have two or more children. Recently, a report revealed the number of births in China dropped 10 per cent in 2022 — the lowest level on record for the nation.