Why We Care.org

Throughout my life, women have been powerful, instructive, and inspirational. I am the eldest of four daughters, and we grew up on a farm in New Zealand, at Te Pahau in the Waikato region. My mother, Margaret, was a primary schoolteacher, and my father George ran the farm. My mother had a kind heart and an inquiring mind. Both of my parents loved visiting me at Premier House during my time as prime minister – they particularly loved watching “question time” and the pageantry of the official opening of Parliament.

Women’s reproductive health needs remain hugely underserved. Hundreds of thousands of women die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

I have tried to emulate my mother in my own life, and to bring her kindness and intellectual  engagement to all I do, especially when I try to tackle difficult issues like family planning and reproductive health. Adequate sexual and reproductive health services are an absolutely basic human right. Yet it is one that so many do not enjoy. It is critical for promoting gender equality and empowerment. It is critical for achieving the Millennium  Development Goals (MDGs). And it is critical for development progress overall.

Having served as prime minister of my country for ten years, and as the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I believe that achieving  gender equality  is not only morally right, but also catalytic to development as a whole, creating political, economic, and social opportunities for women, which benefit individuals, communities, countries, and the world.

MDG progress, as it currently stands, is uneven, and it is still too slow to meet the 2015 target date of all the goals. In no area is that more apparent than on MDG 5 on maternal health. As long as more than 200 million women in the world have an unmet need for family planning, their chances of finishing their education, engaging in paid work, and breaking out of poverty are reduced. I believe that women  have the right to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children, how many to have, and with whom – and then to receive the support and care to give birth safely.