The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights

June 16, 2014 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

The sustainable development agenda and unmet need for sexual and reproductive health and rights
Excerpts of editorial by Marge Berer


…I want to circle back and talk about “family planning” here, to add some perspectives in addition to what the papers in this journal issue provide. “Family planning” was out of the news for a long time after Cairo, for a whole generation in fact, but contrary to what you may have been told, people’s need to control their own fertility – and their considerable efforts to do so – never went away. Women and men need contraception and condoms now as much as they have ever done, and young people who are beginning to explore their sexuality need contraception and condoms more than anyone else – and are demanding them too. In 2008, 700-800 million women or couples (no figures available for men alone)7 around the worldwere using some form of contraception (why do people always talk about the ones who aren’t?) and some 43.8 million women had an abortion.8

Fertility control was not invented by FP2012; it has a history going back as far as history itself, as the pictures of IUDs past and present in Figure 1 show. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since “family planning” was promoted as the cure-all for the world’s ills in the 1960s. And, just as then, claims are again being made that it will save the world (and the environment too). Unfortunately, it didn’t then and it won’t now, and everyone needs to study/remember that history so that the same mistakes and the same narrow vision, affecting policy and programmes, are not repeated.

My generation of activists, researchers, service providers and policymakers, who brought their knowledge together at ICPD in 1994, got the world to recognise that the need for the means to control fertility was part of a much broader set of needs related to reproduction and sexuality, and that these were inextricably interconnected.


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