• [Image: Roger-Mark De Souza]

    Roger-Mark De Souza

    USA

    Population Action International (PAI)

    “When we think about unmet need, there’s a recognition that it’s about what women want, and there’s a huge opportunity to fulfil women’s needs. To do that, we have to help to empower them, which leads to multiple benefits for development and planning. This is framing it according to human rights – it’s a no-brainer.”

    “When the husbands see women’s demands being met, they understand and are more receptive to what it means to meet the unmet need. I think it’s a very powerful concept around which we can rally ourselves because it’s ultimately what women want and it works.”

    “Family planning is a cost-effective intervention that produces results over a short period of time, according to economic analyses comparing it to other interventions. There have been some analyses of carbon mitigation measures, and when we compare the number of potential emissions that could be reduced by introducing family planning versus other typical climate interventions, such as carbon sequesetration, family planning is cheaper and produces benefits over a short period of time. The tricky part is that you’re talking about mitigation, but we’re mainly focusing on adaptation, and we single out women’s vulnerability to climate change impacts. We see that women are particularly vulnerable and they are able to increase their resilience to the negative impacts of climate change.”

    “Out of the 41 countries that produced National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) on the environment, 37 mentioned population as critical, but none of them got funding for family planning or the social impacts of climate change. Once again, the financing mechanisms are not set up to recognize the social sector of development.”

    “Many people in communities ‘get’ the link between family planning and the impacts of climate change. I met a woman in Ethiopia who is a model organic farmer, producing produce and livestock, meeting the needs of her family, making a good living. She is a role model for young women. She said to me, ‘you know what, we live in an arid area, and I’m seeing how climate change is affecting our livelihoods. We need to adapt.’ She said she got training from a group that is integrating these issues, including the agricultural extension office and the health extension office. Then she said ‘when I look at my 11 children …’ I asked how she could have 11 children! ‘You have to understand,” she said, “that I’m beautiful and my husband can’t keep his hands off me. And if it weren’t for the family planning services I would have three or four more children. Family planning made the difference and now I’m serving as a role model for other women.’

    “This woman is now going out and telling other women they have a choice – not telling them how many children to have, but that you get to decide the number and spacing. You can make that decision.”

    “Women see family planning as a game-changer – it completely changes how they see their lives and their potential to be empowered and to make a difference.“