Forum on Women’s Health and Rights Opens

Forum on Women’s Health and Rights Opens With Claim on Economic Stimulus Funds:

More than 400 delegates to the Global Partners in Action: Non‐Governmental Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Development began three days of meetings at the Estrel Conference Center to evaluate 15 years of work on those issues since the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) issued its landmark Programme of Action in Cairo.

“An additional dollar invested in voluntary family planning comes back at least four times in saved expenses,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, which is co‐sponsoring the Forum with the German government. “It would cost the world only US$23 billion per year to stop women from having unintended pregnancies and dying in childbirth, and to save millions of newborns—less than 10 days of the world’s military spending.”

Gill Greer, Director‐General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, called on conference participants to demand renewed action from their governments. “By insisting that governments keep their promises of 15 years ago, and by showing that sexual and reproductive health is a cost‐effective long‐term investment, we are playing an essential role in this process,” she said.

“The challenges today are perhaps greater than those of 1994,” said Greer. “These include a world financial crisis, climate change, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, increasing conservatism and fragmented health systems.” A woman dies every minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth—more than half a million deaths per year—and another 10 million suffer injury or disability.

Greer noted that more than 200 million women now want but have no access to modern methods of family planning while demand for contraception and condoms is expected to increase 40 percent by 2050, in part because of HIV/AIDS.
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Ishdeep Kohli-CNS