CBS News, November 14
Access to contraception is a universal human right that could dramatically improve the lives of women and children in poor countries, the United Nations announced Wednesday in a new report.
It is the first time the U.N. Population Fund’s annual report explicitly describes family planning as a human right.
“Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the fund, said in a written statement. “Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labor-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”
UN Population Fund: By Choice, Not By Chance – Family Planning, Human Rights and Development [PDF]
The right of the individual to freely and responsibly decide how many children to have and when to have them has been the guiding principle in sexual and reproductive health, including family planning for decades, but especially since 1994, when 179 governments came together and adopted the groundbreaking Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the ICPD.
The ICPD marked a great paradigm shift in the field of population and development, replacing a demographically driven approach to family planning with one that is based on human rights and the needs, aspirations, and circumstances of each woman.
The impact of this milestone has been nothing short of revolutionary for the hundreds of millions of women and young people who have over the past 18 years gained the power and the means to avoid or delay pregnancy.