Why I Work on Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Reflections on World Population Day
My family’s story exemplifies how access to reproductive health and family planning in a low-income country can have tremendous economic and life-transforming impact for young people and a whole generation-beyond the reduction in fertility and improvements in health.
My parents got married in the 60s, at a time when Profamilia, The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) affiliate in Colombia, was pioneering the country’s path through successful demographic transition. My father, the youngest child of a family of nine, and my mother, the oldest of seven, never went to college. Instead, they worked through their teen years, struggling to help their families.
My mother (influenced by distant women relatives who were educated) had made up her mind to give her children the education she never had. She convinced my father (in spite of the macho, progenitive culture) that the only way to pursue their dreams was to secure a way out of poverty through hard work-and a small family. Sure enough, I, their oldest child, was the first one in the 70-plus extended family to graduate from college and medical school. My two sisters continue to benefit from the education they received.
Today, World Population Day, we mark the one-year anniversary of the London Summit and the launch of the FP2020 initiative. While global momentum for voluntary family planning and reproductive health is growing, over 200-million females-many whom are adolescents-still have an unmet need.
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