Council Commentary

She Decides—A Message of Support

In times of political turbulence, it is often hard to turn away from the breaking news to focus on bedrock understandings and long-range goals.

No matter what political announcements and policy shifts arise, we are still accountable to 225 million women and girls who want to delay, space or prevent a pregnancy and deserve access to voluntary family planning information, services and supplies.

Today in Brussels and around the world, it is heartening to see the She Decides movement taking hold and we are deeply grateful and inspired by the many partners who are taking a stand.

She Decides is a new global initiative on sexual and reproductive health and family planning that aims to support the fundamental right of women to decide their futures. It is attracting backing from governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and individual citizens and will be an ongoing initiative to improve access to lifesaving contraceptives, family planning services, comprehensive sexuality education and safe abortion. She Decides supports the commitments made at the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012 and the longer-term ambitions set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

All women and girls, no matter their circumstance, deserve the opportunity to decide freely and for themselves whether, when, and how many children to have. In addition to protecting this fundamental right, family planning is one of the most effective and efficient investments we can make in health and development. Whether supporting women’s rights and empowerment, improving health, delivering economic growth and development, contributing to environmental sustainability or the political stability of a country, we know that the benefits of family planning are many and multiplying.

We at the Population Council stand with our partners around the world. And we will continue our mission to conduct forward-looking social science, public health and biomedical research and collect high-quality evidence to shape effective policies and programs that protect rights and transform the lives of millions of people around the world. Now more than ever before, the effectiveness of our investments is of critical importance. We must ensure that policies and programs are based on evidence not intuition.

When last in effect, the restrictions set forth by the Mexico City Policy caused clinic closures and cutbacks in family planning services, increasing costs for women and families with the fewest resources. While we do not yet know the full scope of what the newly expanded Policy will entail, we do know that it will negatively affect the lives of millions women and girls around the world—particularly the poorest and most marginalized.

But the current challenges we face also provide opportunity—the opportunity to join together, raise our voices, and demand evidence-based policies that will ensure sustainable global progress and leave no one behind.