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UNFPA Report Highlights Relationship Between Family Planning, Women’s Health And Climate Change

“Providing access to contraception for 215 million women, mainly in developing countries, would help to stabilize population growth and significantly reduce the effects of climate change,” according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nature News reports (Gilbert, 11/18).

In the “State of the World Population 2009” report, UNFPA “argues that international agreements and national policies on climate change are more likely to succeed if they take into account population dynamics, the relations between the sexes, and women’s wellbeing and access to healthcare services,” BMJ News reports. The report also “warns that climate change will amplify inequities between women and men.” Because women comprise a greater percentage of the “agricultural workforce, have fewer income earning opportunities, and are less mobile” experts warn they are more vulnerable to “sudden, weather related natural disasters,” brought on by climate change (Carlowe, 11/18).

UNFPA “acknowledged it had no proof of the effect that population control would have on climate change,” the Associated Press reports. “‘The linkages between population and climate change are in most cases complex and indirect,’ the report said.”

The AP continues, “On Wednesday, one analyst criticized the U.N. Population Fund’s pronouncements as alarmist and unhelpful. ‘It requires a major leap of imagination to believe that free condoms will cool down the climate,’ said Caroline Boin, a policy analyst at International Policy Network, a London-based think tank” (Cheng, 11/18).

Canadian Press/CBC News reports that representatives of Action Canada for Population and Development called upon world leaders to “make women’s reproductive health a priority issue at next years’ G8 and G20 summits” during a press conference on Wednesday, coinciding with the release of the UNFPA report.

“Catherine MacDonald, executive director of Action Canada for Population and Development, said more than 500,000 women and girls around the world die each year from pregnancy-related problems. The World Health Organization estimates 70,000 of those deaths are due to unsafe abortions. ‘This is a human rights issue that clearly matters to millions of people,’ MacDonald said. … ‘This year, it’s time for the leaders of the world to commit to the funding and to marshal the resources to make real progress'” (11/18).