Cover Image
close this bookUnderstanding Reproductive Health: A Guide for Media (CMFR - UNFPA, 1996, 49 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentData card
View the documentI. Introduction
View the documentII. Tracing policy shifts from family planning to reproductive health
View the documentIII. Reproductive health: a perspective and an approach
View the documentIV Why reproductive health?
View the documentV. Fundamental principles
View the documentVI. Issues within and beyond the pelvic zone: some reflections
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences
Open this folder and view contentsFor Media Reference


1 Paragraph 7.3 of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (1994) refers to reproductive rights as the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so and the right to attain the highest standards of sexual and reproductive health (underscoring provided).

2 The family planning establishment is a transnational coalition of national governments (mainly US, Japan, UK, Germany, Canada, France, among others), multilateral institutions (UN agencies, particularly UNFPA, World Bank, and the IMP), bilateral institutions (USAID, CIDA, JICA), private population organizations (IPPF, Population Council, Population Crisis Committee, Rockefeller, Ford, MacArthur), environment and conservation groups which squarely blame increasing population growth rates for environmental destruction (Sierra Leone, among others), and mostly US-based academic institutions (East-West, University of Chicago, University of North Carolina). This establishment, as I call them, has had a tremendous impact on how governments, especially those of poorer and less developed countries, have shaped their population policies. It has greatly influenced too the current thinking on population that continues to prevail in countries like the Philippines.

In this paper, whenever I write “the establishment”, I reter to the family planning establishment as I have defined it here.

3 In 1952, the US government established the President’s Material Policy Commission which reported that US could “sustain its civilization” only if it could depend upon the raw materials of the poor countries, the very countries which had “population growths that pressed hardest on available natural resources”.

4 Determinants are those factors that influence decision-making processes or behavior - in this case, fertility. For instance, research studies have shown that a woman’s education is a major fertility determinant. This means that a woman who is educated is more likely to control her fertility through some methods she chooses.

5 It’s very difficult to talk about women’s groups because they are so diverse and the personal and political dynamics among these groups are so complex and so complicated it is difficult to keep track of them. But for clarity’s sake and for purposes of simplifying things, when I say women’s groups, I refer, in this paper, to women’s groups composed of women in developing countries working for women’s health. In the Philippines, WomanHealth was the first women’s group which advocated for women’s rights and worked on women’s health. I also refer to the US-based and other Western-based women’s groups working for women’s health and women’s rights like the International Women’s Health Coalition, the Boston Women’s Health Collective, among others. Women’s groups in developing countries and developed countries may or may not work together, may or may not belong to the same networks. But, in their own ways, they allstrive to put women and their health in their government’s list of priorities or in the agenda of international conferences or provide women a constellation of services.

6 Many women‘s groups – here (e.g. Gabriela) and abroad (e.g. Finnrage in Bangladesh) –refuse to have anything to do with international donors which have long been into population control programs. Others have decided to work with institutions like the UNFPA, World Health Organization, Ford Foundation, Mac Arthur Foundation, but have been critically collaborating with them.

7 This was developed by Asia-Pacific Resource and Research on Women, an NGO based in Malaysia working with women’s reproductive health, based on the work of feminists like Rosalind Petchesky and Sonia Correa. (see Petchesky and Correa: “Reproductive and Sexual Rights: a feminist perspective”, 1994).

8 I do not know if these principles are being observed by governments international institutions, like the Establishment But, I suggested these, and if we’re talking reproductive health-reproductive rights as key to empowerment, then these principles are appropriate.