By Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health
GLC member and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jenny Shipley spoke out on CNN.com, calling family planning the 'elephant in the room' at the Rio+20 summit:
Every second, every day, every year we fail to address demand for reproductive health and family planning services. Lives are lost and girls' opportunities to thrive and contribute to their country's development shrink. These are real people. We know that universal access to voluntary family planning services would prevent 150,000 maternal deaths and 25 million abortions every year. This is an issue all governments and negotiators should agree upon if we are serious about sustainable development.
Today, opposition to voluntary family planning can only be attributed at best to outdated thinking, and at worst to a desire to undermine women's rights.
If the motto of the Rio conference is to be realized, that is, to build "the future we want," leaders must step up and call for universal access to reproductive health and voluntary family planning for women everywhere who are denied this right.
Consider the wider benefits to our planet. Providing women with the desired cost-effective, low-tech family planning services would not only dramatically reduce pressure on natural resources, increase supplies of food and water, decrease the risk of conflict over other scarce resources and improve ecological health, but scientists estimate such services would cut carbon emissions by up to one-quarter of what's needed to slow climate change -- an outcome equal to ending deforestation around the world, or increasing 40-fold our reliance on wind power.