Sunday, August 17, 2008

Help Women Curb Reproduction

Recently, in response to my article on population in the Vancouver Sun, I heard from Jane Roberts, a Nobel Peace prize nominee. Jane is co-founder of 34 Million Friends, a grassroots effort in the United States to support the United Nations Population Fund. She is a resident of Redlands, CA.

Below Jane shares with us her letter to the editor of the Washington Times (a conservative Washington paper), which appeared on 29 July 2008.

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On June 26, the Bush administration, for the seventh year in a row, refused to release congressionally approved funds for the United Nations Population Fund.

The fund, supported by 181 countries last year, not only offers reproductive health care and family planning in 151 countries but also studies population and poverty trends. It's a good time to talk about population. The fate of women is central to any population debate.

The planet is home to 6.7 billion people, and about 75 million more births occur each year than deaths. Ninety-eight percent of this growth happens in the poorest countries.

In these countries, there is high maternal mortality (more than 500,000 maternal deaths in childbirth each year) and nearly 10 million deaths of children under age 5. Four million of these deaths happen in the first month of life due in large part to the ill health of the mother.

In 1968, world leaders proclaimed that individuals have a basic human right to determine the number and timing of their children. Forty years later, modern contraception remains out of reach for hundreds of millions of people.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, 210 million pregnancies occur in the world every year, and 42 million of them end in abortion, half of which are risky and illegal. About 70,000 women per year die from unsafe abortions.

This is unacceptable. Universal access to family-planning help and the highest standard of reproductive health must become the order of the day. Yet there has been a sharp reduction in international funding for reproductive health in general, and in particular in the area of family planning.

The family-planning component of the worldwide reproductive health budget has fallen from 55 percent to 7 percent, says Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund.

Women, if educated and given choices, have fewer children, and they educate them better and keep them healthy. The women often earn incomes, and that improves family and community life. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently said: "In women, the world has the most significant but untapped potential for development and peace." The fate of women is closely linked with population issues. Population is important. Women are important. We ignore both at our peril.

1 comment:

SESALMONY@aol.com said...

We need many more people like Jane Roberts who are willing to stand up and speak out loudly, clearly and often about what they believe to be true rather than be rendered mute by their selfish, unconscionable embrace of only those ideas which is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially approved.

When I was a boy, we were taught that each generation had responsibilities to assume and duties to perform with regard to the acknowledgement and acceptance of the challenges that are presented to us, so that the next generation can have a chance at a better life. Under no circumstances, would it be correct to pose as willfully blind, hysterically deaf or electively mute in the face of any challenge, as many too many in my not-so-great generation are doing in these days.

What has happened to the misguided leaders of my generation? So many in the elder generation have determined to let the looming challenges in our time fall into the laps of our children. At least to me, today’s leaders show an astonishing unwillingness to examine the prospects of a good life for those who directly follow us, let alone coming generations.

After my single, not-so-great generation finishes the `missions’ (ie, fools’ errands) the leading, self-proclaimed “masters of the universe” among us have set before the human community, what resources will be left for our children to consume; how many more people will have to share what remains of the dissipated and degraded resources; where will they find clean air to breathe, clean water to drink? I shudder when thinking about what our children might say about what we have done so poorly and failed to do so spectacularly, all for sake of selfishly fulfilling our insatiable desires for endless material possessions and freedom without responsibility.....come what may for the children, coming generations, global biodiversity, the environment and Earth’s body.

How could one generation go so wrong? Here are some of the ways.

First, the leaders in my generation of elders wish to live without having to accept limits to growth of seemingly endless economic globalization, of increasing per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers; our desires are evidently insatiable. We choose to believe anything that is politically convenient, economically expedient and socially agreeable; our way of life is not negotiable. We dare anyone to question our values or behaviors.

We religiously promote our widely shared and consensually-validated fantasies of `real’ endless economic growth and soon to be unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, and in so doing deny that Earth has limited resources and frangible ecosystems upon which the survival of life as we know it depends.

Second, my not-so-great generation appears to be doing a disservice to everything and everyone but ourselves. We are the “what’s in it for me?” generation. We demonstrate precious little regard for the maintenance of the integrity of Earth; shallow willingness to actually protect the environment from crippling degradation; lack of serious consideration for the preservation of biodiversity, wilderness, and a good enough future for our children and coming generations; and no appreciation of the vital understanding that humans are no more or less than magnificent living beings with “feet of clay.”

Perhaps we live in unsustainable ways in our planetary home; but we are proud of it nonetheless. Certainly, we will “have our cake and eat it, too.” We will own fleets of cars, fly around in thousands of private jets, live in McMansions, exchange secret handshakes, frequent exclusive clubs and distant hideouts, and risk nothing of value to us. We will live long, large and free. Please do not bother us with the problems of the world. We choose not to hear, see or speak of them. We are the economic powerbrokers, their bought-and-paid-for politicians and the many minions in the mass media. We hold much of the world’s wealth and the extraordinary power great wealth purchases. If left to our own devices, we will continue in the exercise of our `inalienable rights’ to outrageously consume Earth’s limited resources; to recklessly expand economic globalization unto every corner of our natural world and, guess what, beyond; and to carelessly consent to the unbridled global growth of human numbers so that where there are now 6+ billion people, by 2050 we will have 9+ billion members of the human community and, guess what, even more people, perhaps billions more in the distant future, if that is what we desire.

We are the reigning, self-proclaimed masters of the universe. We enjoy freedom and living without limits; of course, we adamantly eschew any talk of the personal responsibilities that come with the exercise of personal freedoms or any discussion of the existence of biophysical limitations of any kind.

We deny the existence of human limits and Earth’s limitations.

Please understand that we do not want anyone presenting us with scientific evidence that we could be living unsustainably in an artificially designed, temporary world of our own making….a manmade world filling up with gigantic enterprises, virtual mountains of material possessions, and boundless amounts of filthy lucre.

Third, most of our top rank experts appear not to have found adequate ways of communicating to the family of humanity what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the rapacious dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of the planet’s environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding at breakneck speed toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some sort unless, of course, the world’s colossal, ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global political economy continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic `wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

Who knows, perhaps we can realistically and hopefully hold onto the expectation that behavioral changes in the direction of sustainable production, per human consumption, and propagation are in the offing.....changes that save both the economy and the Creation.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, est. 2001
http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/index.php