|Understanding Reproductive Health: A Guide for Media (CMFR - UNFPA, 1996, 49 p.)|
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 Presidents 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 womans 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 Its very difficult to talk about womens 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 claritys sake and for purposes of simplifying things, when I say womens groups, I refer, in this paper, to womens groups composed of women in developing countries working for womens health. In the Philippines, WomanHealth was the first womens group which advocated for womens rights and worked on womens health. I also refer to the US-based and other Western-based womens groups working for womens health and womens rights like the International Womens Health Coalition, the Boston Womens Health Collective, among others. Womens 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 governments list of priorities or in the agenda of international conferences or provide women a constellation of services.
6 Many womens 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 womens 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 were talking reproductive health-reproductive rights as key to empowerment, then these principles are appropriate.