Misunderstanding progressive population concern
Simon Ross 22 August 2013
The chief executive of Population Matters responds to Kalpana Wilson’s critique of neoliberal population control. Funding family planning in developing countries is a force both for social justice and environmental protection.
The reality for many millions of women across the developing world is that their opportunities for self-development and self-determination are severely limited. Many in the international community are committed to addressing this, yet, surprisingly, some are opposed to these efforts.
Many women are effectively coerced into early marriage, typically ending their education and thus limiting their opportunity to earn a decent income. Early marriages also often lead to early or frequent pregnancies, both significant health risks where healthcare is limited.
Others find that unreliable supply and support of family planning methods leads to unplanned pregnancies, disrupting their education and employment prospects. Unplanned and poorly spaced pregnancies create potential health problems for both mother and child. Many seek ‘backstreet’ abortions, creating further health hazards.
Over the past ten years, funding of family planning programmes has been diverted to HIV/ Aids programmes. It is only now that international funders, led by the UK government and the Gates Foundation, are beginning to invest again in this critical area. In 2012, the London Summit on Family Planning committed to halving the number of women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but who are not using modern contraception.
These women are entitled to sexual and reproductive health and rights, both as rights in themselves and as an essential underpinning to their rights to education and employment. This is sufficient in itself for this initiative to be supported.
There are other reasons for supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights, however.
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