Climate Change Solutions: Empowering Women and Girls through Reproductive Choice
At Marie Stopes International Australia, we’ve been exploring the relationship between climate change and sexual and reproductive health. Inspired by Project Drawdown, we recognise that family planning and education for women and girls is an effective combined solution to reverse global warming.
The realisation of the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women and girls and the advancement of gender equality are linked to sustainable population and climate change in many ways. It is well documented that women and girls are most affected by climate vulnerability, and that their reproductive health and rights are negatively impacted by climate change. Providing reproductive choice to women and girls can improve the health and resilience of women and their communities, enhancing their ability to prepare for and adapt to climate change. Women wishing to delay or cease child bearing who are provided with reproductive choice can also contribute to sustainable population growth, decrease consumption and lower emissions.
Securing the fundamental right to voluntary, high quality family planning services around the world would have positive impacts on the health, welfare and life expectancy of both women and their children… Family planning can also have ripple effects on drawing down greenhouse gas emissions.Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken
A Practical Solution for Climate Change
Sexual and reproductive health offers a practical solution to climate challenges, mitigating and preventing a variety of consequences resulting from extreme weather events and natural disasters, unsustainable population growth and rising sea levels including:
- Poverty Reduction and Strengthening Economies: When women can exercise reproductive choice, they are more likely to participate in education and the workforce. In most developing countries, female participation in the formal economy has increased as fertility has fallen. Women’s participation in the economy promotes economic growth and economies that are strong are better able to absorb the disturbances of climate change and recover from climate related events1.
- Sustainable Population Growth: Scaling up access to voluntary, high quality sexual and reproductive health services in areas vulnerable to climate change can reduce the pressure that rapid population growth has on the living environment and reduce the harms associated with increasing numbers of people being exposed to climate risks2.
- Women’s Participation and Leadership: Women’s participation and leadership is important to climate change preparedness, resilience and action. Enabling women to control their bodies and reproductive health can help create opportunities for women to participate, lead and contribute to the conversation.
As a climate change mitigation strategy, family planning programs are more cost-effective than other conventional, carbon energy solutions. One study found reducing 34 gigatons of global carbon emissions would cost $220 billion if spent on providing family planning to those with unmet need compared to $1 trillion if spent on low carbon technologies3.
Want to know more? Download our position paper here.
1 Hoepf Young, M, Malone, E, Madsen, E, & Coen, A, 2009, Adapting to climate change: The role of reproductive health. A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge
2 Population Action International, 2011, Why population matters to climate change.
3 Wire, T, 2009, by Investing in Family Planning. London: London School of Economics.
Curious about how Marie Stopes International Australia can contribute to climate change mitigation? Read more about us here and donate below.