On Our Minds: Suddenly, Women are Hot Again

July 31, 2012

On July 11, international development big wigs – from governments to the Gates Foundation – announced some very big news at a family planning summit in London: giving women what they want matters again. Specifically, giving over 200 million women worldwide access to the basic modern contraception they want, but can ‘t currently get.

With the announcement of billions in new money pledged to meet women’s needs, it was a great day for the global reproductive health and rights movement. But it was just as important for conservationists, even though many of them may not know it yet.

That’s because investing in women, and especially in women’s ability to plan their own families, is one of the cheapest, smartest, most impactful things we can do for the planet. Families are healthier, smaller, and wealthier. Our impact on natural resources, our power to conserve, and our ability to solve social and health problems are all tremendously more manageable when women are empowered in this way.

The London announcement was just another spark in a growing conversation we’ve been helping to promote about the people/planet connection, a conversation that transcends the tired old clichés around population growth v. consumption patterns. Instead, we’re seeing the development of a win/win frame for people and the clean water, air and land we all depend on. It’s bringing new alliances to the fore, and creating powerful momentum for investment in people and the planet. Now that’s welcome news from Boston to Bangladesh.

Belinda Griswold