World Contraception Day is For Women's Rights, But It's For the Environment, Too

World Contraception Day photo
Image: Lars Plougmann via flickr

The connection between increased access to family planning and greenhouse gas emissions has been covered here before, but since World Contraception Day was this week and we're still so far from where we need to be on both issues, it's worth another look. At an Aspen Institute event last week, the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health reminded the audience that if women around the world had access to family planning, up to 15 percent of the carbon emissions reductions necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change would be achieved.

A 2009 study found that every $7 spent on basic family planning would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than a ton.

More than 200 million women who currently want to avoid pregnancy are unable to access family planning methods. It's estimated that more than 40 percent of pregnancies worldwide are unintended, and UN data suggests that meeting worldwide demand for family planning would reduce unintended births by 72 percent—and projected world population by 2050 by half a billion. Plus, according to the Council, when women and men have access to voluntary family planning, poverty rates go down and education rates go up.

Last week's event was opened by the ever-inspiring Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland who founded the council, and featured leaders ranging from the vice president of Zambia to the former president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation to the U.S. Surgeon General.

An issue like this shouldn't need these distinguished voices to lead the call for improved access to family planning, but now that they are taking that lead—for the well-being of women and for the planet—isn't it time for the world to listen?

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More on reproductive health and the environment:
Family Planning Helps Women, Slows Climate Change. What's the Problem?
Contraception Five Times Less Expensive Than Low-Carbon Technology in Combating Climate Change
Is Birth Control the Cheapest Answer to Climate Change?
Offset Your CO2: Buy the Pill for the Poor

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