In the World We Want, I Decide
Many of us in this room have dedicated our lives to ensuring that all women—young and old, poor and wealthy, married and unmarried—are able to say two words: I Decide.
It seems simple enough. When women have the power to decide if and when to have children, their families become healthier and stronger. Their communities become more economically solvent, and our planet becomes more sustainable.
Yet, in 2014, the right to decide the size of one's family remains out of reach for far too many. At least 200 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy, but lack access to modern contraception. And the region where I am from and where I work, Latin America and the Caribbean, is home to some of the strictest abortion laws in the world; 95% of abortions in the region are performed in unsafe conditions.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation believes that the right to decide is crucial to ensuring a sustainable world for all. This year, as world leaders decide on what will replace the Millennium Development Goals, we need to make sure that sexual and reproductive rights are at the center of the new global development targets.
That’s why we have called on our advocates in 172 countries to take a stand. Through our global I Decide campaign, we are mobilizing local leaders to advocate with their governments and claim their rights by signing our petition. Our goal is to present one million signatures in support of human rights, bodily autonomy, and health to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon next summer.
We know what’s needed, and we know what works. For more than 60 years, we have been providing quality health services and education throughout the world. This experience has taught us that programs succeed when they are grounded in the specific needs and realities of local communities.
Twenty years ago, at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, women's rights advocates and our allies dramatically changed the global development paradigm. We moved from a focus on population control to putting the needs and rights of women at the center of the conversation. The same is true of development policies and funding today—which is why IPPF and Planned Parenthood Global are working toward the same goals today, as the world is poised to set the next global development agenda.
I hope you will join us in ensuring that every individual is able to exercise their right to decide. You can join in by signing our petition and sharing it with your social networks.
Together, I know we can ensure a world of choice and opportunity for all.