Dare to Dream Big

Suzanne Petroni

Rather than seeking a return to "the way things were under the Clinton Administration... plus some," sexual and reproductive health advocates should use this time to believe that we can achieve great gains for women.

From overturning the Global
Gag Rule and restoring funding to UNFPA on the international side to
ridding our nation of harmful abstinence-only sex education and uber-politicized
decisions at the FDA on the domestic, the reproductive health community
is justifiably excited about the prospects for an Obama Administration
and a supportive Congress to turn back many of the heinous policies
that have been in place for much of the past eight years.  

After years of being beaten
down and of working to incrementally to claw our way back to sound policies,
reproductive health advocates may be tempted to shy away from dreaming
big and believing that we might finally be able to extricate our issues
from the political morass into which they have become enmeshed.    

But rather than seeking a return
to "the way things were under the Clinton Administration… plus some,"
why not take this historic opportunity to think about how things "could
be" if all was right with the world?   

Why not dare to dream, to hope,
and to believe that we can achieve great gains for the women of this
nation and the world?  Why not take to heart President-elect Obama’s
vision of a world that shares a common humanity, where our policies
recognize and promote the inherent equality, dignity and worth of all
people?  

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As the transition team and
the new administration work to consolidate U.S. foreign assistance,
why not ensure that gender equality undergirds our new foreign aid infrastructure
and our foreign policies?   

As the nation rejoins the global
community in recognizing and prioritizing the Millennium Development
Goals (a stated priority of candidate Obama), why not use the voice
of our community to promote a more humane internationalism grounded
on reducing poverty and ensuring equal rights for all?   

As President Obama begins to
undo the harmful domestic policies of the Bush Administration, why not
take advantage of his overwhelming support among the nation’s women
and youth to actively promote a sexually healthy nation – one that
reflects the realities of people’s lives, rather than a sexist, homophobic,
backward vision of how a minority idealizes the world should be? 

For decades now, reproductive
health policy in this country has been hyper-politicized and partisan. 
Let’s take this historic, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,
to think big about breaking out of that pattern.   

Let’s move away from our
vertical, siloized approaches and think about how to truly integrate
sexual and reproductive health into a comprehensive range of programs,
domestic and international.   

Let’s support evidence-based
prevention and act on the notion that health is both a right and a responsibility.   

Let’s proceed as if we truly
believe that women’s rights and reproductive rights are human
rights.   

Let’s envision not just winning
the short-term internecine battles around reproductive health, but actually
winning the long-term peace.  If we step back from our focus on
day-to-day tactics and strategies and dare to dream, yes, I believe
we can.

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