Melinda Gates and Nick Kristof Answer Your Questions, Part II

By: Melinda French Gates
Originally posted by: the Impatient Optimists

Gates2.jpgMelinda Gates and Nick Kristof recently returned from a three-day trip to Bangladesh. To highlight the corresponding development issues, they agreed to answer reader's questions. This is the second installment of their three-part Q&A session.

Q. COSIMA BARLETT: My comments do not in any way detract from the profound admiration I have for you and your Foundation but a simple question: why do you not concentrate more of your efforts on American children who are so lacking in so many important areas as statistics now show? Read more...

Maternal Health, Family Planning: A Matter of Must

Originally posted by: FrontPage Africa

By: Mae Azango, one of four African journalists to win a prestigious grant from the Pulitzer Center to cover reproductive health issues

MaeLiberia.jpgFamily planning is now a serious problem in Africa, but many women in underdeveloped Countries are denied access to modern contraception due to inadequate supplies and isolation of rural dwellers in most instances. Other women are denied family planning methods because of cultural backgrounds and religious affiliation.

One would ask why family planning is important and should be made an access free service. According to a report conducted by Women Deliver, every year more than 500,000 women and girls die from pregnancy related complications. This has amounted to one death every minute. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Advocating for Greater Access to Female Condoms

By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern

FC.pngDespite continued commercial availability for more than 15 years and ongoing efforts to increase global accessibility, a massive unmet demand for female condoms still exists today. High prices—up to 30 times the price of a male condom in some places—and limited or irregular access have kept the only female-initiated contraceptive method out of reach of many women.

In particular, female condoms act as a “barrier” contraceptive, which means they physically prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Unlike other barrier contraceptives, female condoms also protect the inside and outside of the vagina, thus preventing sexually transmitted infections. Greater access to the female condom for both women and men will increase the instances of protected sex and lead to the reduction of unintended pregnancies, maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortions, and help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. To help prevent these tragedies, last month on World AIDS Day, the United Kingdom committed 5 million pounds for the distribution of female condoms in Africa. Read more...

The Power Of The “Demographic Dividend”

By: Gary Darmstadt
Originally posted by: the Impatient Optimists

Kanpur.jpgI recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting at the World Bank where global health and development leaders and finance ministers from rich and poor countries met to share experiences and learning about the demographic dividend.

The concept of the demographic dividend is that when fertility rates in a country decline, fewer births take place each year, and the size of the population of individuals who are dependent on the state grows smaller. Read more...

A Declaration in Support of A Global Campaign for Safe Abortion Access

Dakar, Senegal, December 2, 2011 -- The following declaration was released at the International Conference on Family Planning. A similar declaration was prepared and read by the following partners during the 6th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights (APCRSHR) held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in October 2011: Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), Concept Foundation, Women on Waves, Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation East and SE Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF-ESEAOR) and South Asia Region (IPPF-SAR). Read more...

Family Planning Access Will Deliver for Women In Uganda

By: Dr. Jotham Musinguzi and Jill Sheffield
Originally posted in The Independent and The Daily Monitor

ugandapregnant.jpgNext week, leaders from across Africa and around the world will meet at the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal. This meeting comes at a critical time, as we examine how to navigate a world with increasingly constrained resources and create a future that fosters health and development worldwide. The meeting also occurs during World AIDS Day. Women now comprise the majority of those living with HIV in Africa, and access to male and female condoms to prevent both HIV and unwanted pregnancy is crucial. Read more...

Women’s Health Issues in a World of 7 Billion

By: Jill Sheffield, Founder and President of Women Deliver
Originally posted by The Huffington Post

yemengirls.jpgThis past month, the world met a milestone. We officially live in a world of seven billion people -- an impressive figure that drives home just how much responsibility we all have to take care of our globe, ourselves and each other. This benchmark has sparked many conversations anew, from the impact of population on the environment to the undeniable importance of contraception. But as UNFPA's recently launched State of the World's Population 2011 report points out, a world of seven billion is not a time to ask, "Are we too many?" but rather, "What can I do to make our world better?" Read more...

Corporate Buzz: Social Franchising for Women’s Health

By: Kristin Rosella and Madeline Taskier, Strategic Partnerships Group, Women Deliver

For most women around, purchasing family planning or maternal health products is much easier said than done. In some cases, price points are too high, the quality of the products is questionable, or there is little information and counseling available for women. A lack of access to high-quality commodities is one of the major remaining barriers to achieving comprehensive maternal and reproductive health for women.

Enter social franchising for health—a concept that developed from social marketing health campaigns. The idea is to create a branded network of health practitioners who provide high-quality health services to those who need them the most. Like social marketing, which applies business marketing techniques for social good (e.g., anti-smoking television commercials), social franchising applies business franchise models for social good. The primary motive of sales is not profit, but rather, providing high-quality products. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Programs In Nigeria Set The Bar High

By: Lindsey Taylor Wood, Communications Associate

In Northern Nigeria, 1 in 23 women will die in pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, 10% of maternal deaths, globally, occur there; and rates of newborn and child mortality are also amongst the highest in the world. Read more...

UN Resolution on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Adopted

By: Joanna Hoffman, Special Projects ManagerUN_Maternal_Mortality.jpg

Last week on September 28th, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution reaffirming the importance of addressing maternal mortality and morbidity, and calling for direct action to save mothers’ lives. Specifically, the resolution calls for the development of practical guidance, through an expert workshop, to assist States, the United Nations system and all stakeholders in applying human-rights based frameworks to programs and policies aimed at preventing maternal death and disability. Read more...

Andean Nations Unite to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

This past week, a diverse group of stakeholders from six countries- Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Columbia and Venezuela-  joined together to celebrate Andean Week for Teen Pregnancy Prevention. This event brings together youth organizations and government bodies in collaboration with partners from the Andean Plan to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (PLANEA) in a series of activities and interactive events. With the aim of reaching communities and policy-makers, these activities are designed to raise awareness about the issue of teen pregnancy and what can be done to scale-up prevention efforts. Read more...

World Contraception Day: Family Planning is More Than Smart Economics

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver and Elisabeth van der Steenhoven, Director of WO=MEN, Dutch Gender Platform

In just a few weeks, the world’s population will surpass seven billion. This intimidating figure should be a critical reminder to all of us—especially advocates and donor countries—of a promise we have yet to deliver on: ensuring access to family planning for women around the world. Read more...

World Contraception Day: Let’s Use Social Media

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Bridget Akudo Nwagbara, Chair of the Youth Health Workers Advocates, Nigeria – MNCH

Social media has revolutionized the way people across the globe interact with one another. At the recent, the Social Good Summit, initiatives like Shot@Life, which was launched with the intent to leverage online communities to deliver health care to marginalized and vulnerable populations, were lauded. Young people are leading this revolution! And as such, they should be the target of more initiatives that use social media. Read more...

World Contraception Day: The Importance of Educating Young Women

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Saba Ismail, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders and program manager of the “Sahailee Hotline”

In Pakistan, talking about sexual and reproductive health, sexuality and contraception is considered taboo. The truth is, Pakistan is a conservative country and the people here have feudal norms and culture. Young people cannot talk about contraception nor discuss it with their friends – when they do, they are considered vulgar. They’re not allowed to ask questions about topics like contraception because their use is considered a sin, and some doctors won’t give their patients permission to use contraception because they consider it anti-Islamic. According many people’s religious beliefs, women shouldn’t use contraception because children are “a gift from God” and we should not reject such a precious gift. The only way doctors recommend that husbands and wives stop having children is by avoiding intercourse altogether – they make no mention of modern contraception. People here believe that if someone does not want to produce children, they should just avoid intercourse. Read more...

World Contraception Day: Silence is Damaging

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Hasinihaja Tsiaro Barijaona Raharison, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders and an Oxfam Action Partner

In Madagascar, there remains a lack of information about contraception. Myths and misconceptions surrounding contraceptive use are common among young people, and confusion and ignorance has led to incorrect or low use of modern contraceptive methods and high amounts of concern about contraceptive side effects. Myths persist, including stories that modern contraceptive methods are responsible for infertility and that taking a bath or shower after sex, rinsing a woman’s vagina with soda, or taking inappropriate pills after sex are effective at stopping unwanted pregnancies. Read more...

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

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Rachel Cernansky, blogger at and winner of the Women Bloggers Deliver contest; excerpted from the original post at

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. Read more...

World Contraception Day: “Hombres y mujeres jóvenes y el acceso a anticonceptivos”?

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series


What Is The Difference Between How Young Women And Men Learn About And Access Birth Control Methods? And Why?

By: Yunuén Flores, Director of the Gender Program

I’m a young female activist and even more importantly, I live in a Latin American country: Mexico. I come from a culture that is patriarchal, machista, religious and full of taboos. Ah, and I already told you that I’m a woman! So I have lived my life with different rules than the men in my community, typecast by social norms that we ourselves have created. Read more...

World Contraception Day: We Were Fifteen

By: Mariko Rasmussen, public health student at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in Reproductive and Family Health.

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

They say kids in Los Angeles grow up fast. Sitting across from a girlfriend over lunch the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I learned there could be truth in this statement. Following a pause in our conversation, she admitted her real reason for calling to see me – she’d had an abortion a few weeks prior. I sat in disbelief. We were fifteen. Read more...

2015+: Ensuring Women’s Sexual & Reproductive Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean

By: Mabel Bianco, President of Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer – FEIM


Prior to the creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and particularly MDG 5 (to improve maternal health), there were many international agreements for improving the status of all citizens, including those focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Although these international agreements, including the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Programme of Action (PoA) and the Beijing Platform for Action (PfA), preceded the MDGs, the responsibilities and commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights that governments and donors established are broader than those encompassed in MDG5 and 5B. Read more...

World Contraception Day: That Is Not the Life I Wanted

Get Involved: Add Your Own Perspectives At The Conversations For A Better World Blog Series

By: Bridget Akudo Nwagbara, Chair of the Youth Health Workers Advocates, Nigeria – MNCH

“I had a dream to be the best that I can at anything I want to be….I couldn’t because I became a mother at 15 years. I never wanted the baby. Now, I have to cope with the demands of being a mother without going to school. That is not the life I wanted”…*Anne

These voices echo those of Nigerian youths who don’t have access to basic reproductive health choices today. They were never told what contraceptives were all about, where to get them, how to get them and how to use them. Then, the big question is: Why are they denied the right to decide freely and responsibly when to start having sexual relationships, when to have children, and how many children they want? The answers are not far-fetched and it is important we bring them to fore this week to celebrate World Contraception Day. Read more...

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