Debunking a Viral WhatsApp Myth about the Population of Men and Women in the World

By Abdulkabir Olatunji

A few days ago, I posted a simple Facebook rebuttal to the data shared in a viral WhatsApp message claiming there are 5 billion women and 2 billion men in the world according to the United Nations. A simple check of figures from the United Nations portal addresses this. But people in general and Nigerians in particular seem averse to fact checking. Somebody in his response to the post was telling me there are more women in religious houses. Really? That’s your basis for estimating population?

Social media, instead of educating some of us is actually misinforming many people. This is a very dangerous trend which if unchecked can have dire consequences. Misinformation can be lethal because people can be pushed to take risks that they should not because of a single false statistic or piece of news. We should learn to check and verify before posting or sharing certain things.

The United Nations World Population Prospects (WPP) report released this year tells us that in 2019, there is an estimated population of 3, 889, 035, 000 men in the world compared to 3, 824, 434, 000 women. Looking at Nigeria, the report estimates men in Nigeria to be 101, 832, 000 and women in Nigeria to be 99, 132, 000.

Many Nigerian men will seek to debate this because somehow along the line, certain people began to justify polygamy with contrived statistics. For the record, I am a Muslim and Islam my religion allows a man that believes he can be just and fair to marry up to 4 wives. Hence, this article is not an attack on polygamy or to be more exact polygyny.

What I am against is misinformation. For those that will say “these are just estimates”, please bring better reliable data because it would be ironic if you were bandying certain unverified figures around claiming they are from the United Nations and then seek to contest actual figures that have been fact-checked from the same source.

I am sharing links to back my claims and extend understanding on the topic in the comments.

https://population.un.org/wpp/

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/essay/you-should-be-worrying-about-the-woman-shortage