Population Matters

We Need a “Million for a Billion”

February 16th, 2011

It’s time to hold world leaders accountable for their promises. Seventeen years ago world leaders gathered in Cairo, Egypt, and declared access to reproductive health care to be a universal right, but for many that right has not been realized.  An estimated 215 million married women in the developed world want to avoid a pregnancy, but are not using a modern method of birth control.  Tens of millions of young men and women are at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.  

It’s time to make access to contraceptives and reproductive health care a reality, not just a right.  Need another reason? By giving women the power to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies we save lives. Every year 365,000 women, many of them too young to bear children, die as a result of pregnancy-related causes. 

It’s time to make your voice heard.  The United Nations has set 2015 as the target year for achieving universal access to reproductive health care services, but if that target is to be reached, the U.S. and other donor nations must fulfill their commitments. The United States must increase its support from $648 million a year to at least $1 billion.  Other donor nations must boost their support as well. In total, we need to boost the amount spent by the international community by at least $1 billion.  If we can’t do that, then universal access to reproductive health care will remain a right…but not a reality.

We can do this.  It will cost an estimated $3.6 billion more a year to provide family planning services and information to the 215 million women who want to avoid a pregnancy, but who are not using a modern method of birth control.  In the grand scale of global finance, that’s small change.  And, in the long run, it will pay for itself.

We can make a world of difference.  Preventing unwanted pregnancies and improving reproductive health can make a world of difference. It can empower women, boost gender equality, reduce maternal and infant mortality, keep girls in school longer, break the cycle of poverty in developing countries, help to protect the environment, and improve food security in nations that are now suffering from hunger and malnutrition.  It may be the single most important thing that we can do for people, posterity, and the planet.

Join the “Million for a Billion” petition campaign.  This week, the Population Institute, in partnership with 15 other family planning advocates, is launching a global petition campaign.  People in the U.S. will be asked to sign a petition to Congress, asking for a $1 billion appropriation for family planning and reproductive health care.  People outside the U.S. will be ask to sign a petition to world leaders asking the U.S. and other donor nations to boost the total level of international support by at least $1 billion a year.

We need one million people to make their voices heard.  That’s what it’s going to take to get the attention of Congress and world leaders.  Right now, the U.S. House of Representatives is debating a temporary funding bill that would actually slash funding for international family planning assistance.  We can’t let that happen.

So what are you waiting for?  Click here to sign the petition and join the campaign.  And be sure to ask all your friends to sign the petition.

Together, we can make a world of difference.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, Executive Vice President

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