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Education, Family Planning Critical To Future of Women, Girls

“As first ladies from around the world, including Michelle Obama, gather in Tanzania on Tuesday to talk about women’s empowerment, it’s crucial that both education and contraception are addressed,” Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of Population Action International, and Halima Shariff, director of Advance Family Planning Tanzania, write in GlobalPost’s “Pulse” blog. “There’s been a lot of focus on girls’ education, and for good reason: we know that educating girls not only empowers them, but raises lifetime incomes for them, their families, and their countries,” they note, adding, “But it’s harder, and less likely, for more girls to stay in school if comprehensive sexuality education and access to contraceptives are not available.” They continue, “Reversing these trends is key to ensuring that the next generation of women has a different future from that of their mothers,” citing a recent World Bank report that “stressed that increased access to family planning and reproductive health services form the linchpin to lifting women and families out of poverty, providing healthier lives and better outcomes for children in developing nations.” They discuss the relationship between education and family planning in Tanzania and conclude, “Contraceptives help people plan their lives and achieve their goals. Period. Let’s endeavor to give all girls not only the power, but the tools, that first ladies are lucky enough to have. The tools that we were both privileged enough to have. The tools that each of them deserve” (7/2).