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The Value of Women and Girls: Always Center Stage at PMC

April 14, 2022 • Rights of Women & Girls, Population Growth, Global Sustainability

Mother and Daughter Embrace. Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash.
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Addressing negative social normative beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge about the value of women and girls is always center stage at PMC. We tend to spotlight one of these injustices in particular: the social, informational, and attitudinal obstacles that prevent women who want to avoid a pregnancy from using family planning information and services around the world.

Far too many women are still subject to relentlessly inaccurate, misleading, and incorrect information about the safety and efficacy of family planning and modern contraception – or are downright denied the right to access available resources by partners, family, or friends. This constitutes an extremely unfair, unjust, and oppressive informational ecosystem. That is why we work tirelessly to correct misinformation about the safety and efficacy of modern contraception, dismantle patriarchal opposition to contraception, and provide accurate, factual information about the many benefits of family planning.

The ability of women to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children to have is a fundamental human right that can and should be championed – always. 

History shows that most women, on average, choose to have two children or less upon attaining a sufficient threshold of reproductive freedom. Some aspects of reproductive freedom include:

 

  • Knowledge of contraception: Accurate understanding of one’s reproductive system and how contraception works and its safety and side effects (most people, even in developing countries, do know where and how to obtain contraception safely).
  • Primary education: At least a primary school level of education (so they can read and write – creating a level of independence unavailable to completely uneducated women).
  • Agency: Social status (or self-confidence and safety to disobey social norms) to make her own decisions about sex, contraception, and life goals.
  • Employment: At least minimal economic independence (belief that they could do something to earn some income – creating a level of independence unavailable to women with absolutely no means of self-support or negotiation).

All of the above provide women and girls with relative freedom, empowering them to pursue life dreams, understand choices, and make informed decisions. Around the world, girls in particular are often denied the opportunity to attend school because their education is not considered as valuable as a boy’s. Research has shown quite the opposite. In fact, investing in girls’ education — especially secondary education — is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and other social and health challenges at a communal level.

If the average woman around the world were to attain what we call true reproductive freedom – the ability to make choices with accurate information, education, possibility of income, and belief in her agency – human population growth would assuredly slow-down and eventually stop. What’s good for women is good for the planet. When allowed to pursue the life they want, women naturally apply their talents to many pursuits and ease the burden humanity places on the planet’s ecosystems.

 


Picture of Joe Bish

Written by Joe Bish

Joe is the Director of Issue Advocacy at Population Media Center. He holds a Master of Science in Environmental Advocacy and Organizing from Antioch University New England.