When the World Takes Care of Women, Women Take Care of the World

Jane Roberts

Can we all find common ground around improving maternal health in the United States and around the world?

On Common Ground must expand the discussion to the entire
planet. What we do here in this country has an effect on the entire world’s view
of women, on their status, on their role in human affairs.

Here are some facts which everyone should know. There are
approximately 200 million pregnancies in the world every year. Of these, twenty
percent end in abortion i.e. 40 million. Of these 40 million, half (20 million)
are unsafe and illegal. These 20 million unsafe illegal abortions result in
68,000 deaths of women and girls, and 5 million injuries, infections and
hemorrhages most requiring hospitalization if indeed a hospital is within reach.

Any honest person would have to say that laws against
abortion are not effective, that throughout human history abortion has been and
no doubt will always be a “method of family planning” which women use in great
numbers. What do we all say about this?

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Everyone should know that about 9 million children under
5 years of age die every year and of those 9 million, 40 percent die in their
first month, many in their first hour. The underlying cause for these deaths is
the ill health of the mother. The babies were born weighing two pounds. The
mother’s diet was inadequate. The pregnancy was close on to the preceding
pregnancy and birth. Very probably the woman had no access to family planning.
 Imagine the

When the world takes care of women, women take care of
the world. The world is doing a terrible job. Millennium Development Goal 5
“Improve Maternal Health” is the least likely to be achieved because in many
poor countries, maternal health is a low priority. Maternal health budgets are
shortchanged and there is a huge dearth of healthcare workers.

Five hundred thousand women are still dying in childbirth
every year and the promise of universal access to reproductive health and family
planning made at the International Conference on Population and Development in
Cairo, Egypt in 1994 has been more honored in the breach than in the
implementation.Please take a look at Millennium Goal 5?
Could we all find Common Ground in Millennium Development Goal 5?

good case can be made that gender inequality is the moral scourge of the age.
Hillary Clinton during her confirmation hearings to become Secretary of State
said: “Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls who comprise
the majority of the world’s unhealthy, schooled, unfed, unpaid.” Can we all work
on this?

When you look around the world, the countries which are
the most prosperous, stable, and democratic are those where women have the
highest status. With high status usually comes decision making autonomy in the
area of fertility. What do we think about that?

When you look around the world, you see that the
countries where there is fairly definite separation between church and state are
the most stable and where gender equality is the most pronounced. This is no
accident. This is cause and effect. Can we discuss this?  

More than 60
million (it may be 100 million) women and girls are “missing” in
Asia and Africa due to sex selective abortion, female
infanticide, and neglect of the girl child. Can we all get our heads around
that? (There has been a recent report that there appears to be more than the
natural percentage of boys born among Asian families in the
U.S.) Any Common Ground here?

Last Thursday, in the Washington Post, Secretary Clinton wrote a column
“Fighting Modern Slavery” lamenting worldwide sex trafficking. The root causes
of sex trafficking are poverty, illiteracy, and powerlessness. Gender inequality
is the basis for all three.  I quote
Stephen Lewis of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and former U.N. ambassador to
Africa for AIDS: “I challenge you to enter the
fray against gender inequality. 
There is no more honorable or productive calling.  There is nothing of greater import in
this world. All roads lead from women to social change.” Can we all find Common
Ground here?

 I think we are
all "Pro-Life" but in different ways. I have spent the
last 7 years urging my fellow Americans to support the United Nations Population
Fund through 34 Million Friends. UNFPA is a worldwide
champion of women’s and girls’ education, health (particularly reproductive
health including family planning) and human rights.  To me Pro-Life and UNFPA are synonymous.

repeat. When the world takes care of women, women take care of the world. What
does taking care of women mean? It means that people rejoice equally at the
birth of a girl or a boy. Every single human being ever born has come from the
womb of a woman. Women risk their very lives to ensure the propagation of the
species.  If women lack health and
education and choices in their lives, humanity suffers. If women disappear,
humanity disappears. It is really that simple. So take care of women! Can we
find Common Ground here? Yes we can!

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