It All Starts With Contraceptive Security

From March 2 to 13, hearings will be
held at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women on the progress, or lack thereof, on
implementing commitments made at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in
Beijing. Hillary Clinton spoke in Beijing. At her recent hearings to become Secretary of
State, she said:  "Of particular
concern to me is the plight of women and girls who comprise the majority of the
world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, unpaid."

There has been a longstanding proposal
for a separate, well-funded U.N. agency for women. The Gender Equality
Architecture Reform (GEAR) proposes to consolidate three U.N. entities: the U.N.
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the Special Advisor on Gender
Issues, and the UN Division on the Advancement of Women. Lots of words.  No deeds.

Let’s do a Reproductive Health Reality Check. All
proposals to advance women, to empower women economically, socially, legally, will be highly ineffectual unless
each and every woman is able to choose whether and when to have children. Every
woman must be able to control her own fertility. Universal access to family
planning was promised at the 1994 International Conference on Population and
Development in Cairo, Egypt. Commitments have been more honored in the breach
than in the implementation.

There is a well accepted definition of
"contraceptive security." "Contraceptive security has been achieved when
individuals have the ability to choose, obtain, and use quality contraceptives
whenever they need them."

Do the math. With 6.7 billion people on
the planet, half of whom are women (and girls) and then again one third of whom
are in their "reproductive years," (let’s say ages 15 to 40), that is (excuse my
French) one hell of a lot of contraceptives.

You’ll be interested in a section of the
United Nations Population Fund web site. Under "Securing Essential

essential commodities – from contraceptives to testing kits to equipment for
emergency obstetric care – the right to reproductive health cannot be fully
exercised. In many places, condoms are urgently needed to prevent the further
spread of the deadly HIV virus.

The mandate of
UNFPA in this area is to provide the right quantities of the right products in
the right condition in the right place at the right time for the right price.
This complex logistical process involves many actors, including the public and
private sectors. UNFPA takes a lead role in reproductive health commodity
security, coordinating the process, forecasting needs, mobilizing support and
building logistical capacity at the country level.

That is the
nitty gritty of how you achieve contraceptive security. A Herculean task because
of course you have to also have the trained health workers to inform, show,
teach.  And safe abortion must also
be in the mix.

I hope the
hearings in the next two weeks emphasize fertility control. I’ll be surprised if
they do. Whether they do or not will constitute a real RH Reality

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • paul-bradford



    As long as we’re on the subject of women’s rights worldwide, I would like to hear your comments on US ratification of the CEDAW treaty which is in the news these days</i&gt;.


    Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has stated that she will work hard to get the treaty to the Foreign Relations Committee. There is already talk that the ratification debate will focus on access to abortion. From the yesterday’s AP article:


    [T]here is growing apprehension that Democratic leaders in the Senate, who need Republican votes to get the treaty ratified, will be willing to add various reservations, understandings and declarations — known as RUDs — that some activists feel would be harmful.


    One of the most contentious RUDs — likely to be revived this year — stipulates that nothing in CEDAW should be interpreted as creating a right to abortion.


    Janet Benshoof, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, called this provision "the most deceptive."


    "This language is touted as neutral or benign but is not," she wrote in a recent essay. "This language can and has been used as an anti-abortion weapon."Because of pressure to shy away from abortion, Benshoof said, U.N. and other agencies have even been unwilling to raise the idea of offering abortions to girls impregnated by rapists in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.


    Could be an interesting debate. Speaking of girls impregnated by rapists, I imagine most of your readers are following this story:


    Let’s talk about it. 


    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    "Speaking of girls impregnated by rapists,"

    That is being discussed here.




  • paul-bradford

    Thanks Colleen,

    I’m afraid that Frances’ thread might be dead by now since it was opened three days ago. There’s breaking news on thatBrazilian abortion story and I’m sure people will have something to say now that the Vatican has weighed in. Dead or not, I’ll try to give the PLCC perspective on the matter. If anyone’s still reading that will probably get some attention.


    I still would like to know whether there’s any interest in this story. The link I put into the previous post is bad. I’m still just learning how to deal with the comment features here.


    Paul Bradford, Pro Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    I have made a very informatimative blog about Gonorrhea information and Treatment US .
    You must read this because gonorrhea is spreading rapidly.

    Note: This is a public service blog

  • invalid-0

    I have made a very informatimative blog about Gonorrhea information and Treatment US .
    You must read this because gonorrhea is spreading rapidly.