Why We Care.org

I am deeply honored to be part of this critical conversation about reproductive health and wish to bring a sense of urgency to it. I was born in 1952 when there were about two and a half billion people on the planet. Today there are seven billion people, and the demographers project that in another forty years there will be nine billion plus. This is a daunting projection! It has serious implications for many issues we face, including the human footprint and its impact on climate. I was raised to face all issues with honesty and confidence. That’s what we must do today as we deal with reproductive health at the local and global level.

People sometimes don't wish to talk about things that embarrass them, but sexual and reproductive health, family planning issues adn their consequences are the daily reality for most women under fifty.

As always, women’s rights and global health are of utmost importance to me. Women make up the highest proportion of people living in extreme poverty. Women represent the highest percentage of refugees and displaced persons in the world. The persistence of rape, genital mutilation, and other forms of violence against women continues to be of critical concern globally, and progress is frustratingly slow. Women globally have continued to have insufficient access to the resources necessary to achieve economic independence. Whatever their situation, women need a sufficient income to break or avoid the cycle of poor health, educational disadvantage, and low status, and to do that well, they must be empowered to control their fertility.

By and large, women in New Zealand are fortunate compared with some other countries, including many in our own region. In my country, Maori people hold a special position in our society. Maori women, in particular, have led a renaissance of Maori culture. Every day Maori women are demonstrating resourcefulness, innovation, and leadership in the development of new programs, often through their community organizations, such as the Maori Women’s Welfare League. We must enable all women, regardless of their cultural background, to fully participate in aspects of economic and politicallife and ensure they are able to be fully involved in the decisions that affect them. And while cultural practice can sometimes add complexity, it must not be used as an excuse to deny women the ability to have control over the timing of their babies’ births; this can be assured by access to family planning support.