World Population Day on July 11th represents not only a time to consider the unprecedented impact that human beings are having on the planet, but also an opportunity to consider the simple and proven solutions that help to mitigate this impact.
Since its inception in the 1960’s, voluntary international family planning programs have been instrumental in cutting the global fertility rate in half, from about six children per woman to the current rate of just under three. Access to reproductive health services, including family planning and education, is critical to reducing the maternal and infant mortality rate, increasing women’s and girl’s literacy rates and education levels, and improving the economic prospects for millions of families around the globe.
In turn, these improvements result in reduced pressures on wildlife and ecosystems, a cleaner environment, and a more secure world. Voluntary family planning is an area of foreign aid that has produced rapid results for people and the planet. Simply stated, voluntary family planning is a highly successful and effective method to improve the health and well-being of women, children, families, communities, and nations, as well as the millions of plant and wildlife species with which we share this planet. This is why it is more important than ever that the U.S. meet its commitments to increase funding for family planning and related foreign aid and support the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
2005 marks five years since the U.S. and 188 other countries established the MDGs, a groundbreaking framework of quantitative targets and integrated approaches for achieving poverty reduction and improvements in health, education, gender equality, the environment and other aspects of human welfare by 2015. When the UN General Assembly meets in September to assess what more needs to be done to help countries meet the goals, U.S. citizens should stand up and be counted among the many citizen campaigns that are happening worldwide to hold governments accountable to meeting these goals. We know that voluntary family planning is an effective way not only to reduce human pressures on the natural world, but also to improve human well-being. So it just makes good sense for governments to put their funding into programs that we know will address several of the MDGs – from poverty to health to environmental sustainability – all at once.
Contact your congressperson and ask him/her to support increased funding for voluntary family planning as a wise investment in people and the planet.
*(This submission is part of a National Wildlife Federation campaign, to learn more and help increase awareness visit www.nwf.org.)