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October 16, 2013

Blog Action Day: Linking Inherent Human Rights -- From the Air We Breathe to Reproductive Health

Population-bannerThis blog post is part of Blog Action Day. Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests, and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food, and the Power of We, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007.

This year's theme is human rights. Here's a post from Naomi Brodkey of the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program:

Linking Our Inherent Human Rights -- From the Air We Breathe to Reproductive Health

For many in the U.S., it may seem like an inherent human right to breathe clean air, drink potable water, and play or garden in toxic-free soil, and why shouldn't it? But the truth is that, both in the U.S. and around the globe, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we toil is not necessarily safe for us, or good for the future of the planet. Despite laws, international treaties, and promises by governments, all are not ensured equal access to these inalienable, interrelated, and interdependent rights. What's more is that we, humans, might be the very reason why.

While we may also take for granted, especially in developed countries and large metropolitan cities, the existence of the corner pharmacy where we have easy access to over-the-counter medications --including contraceptive methods ranging from condoms to Plan B, over 222 million women in the world are not guaranteed access to the right to reproductive and sexual health.

In the U.S., state by state, we are fighting for access to comprehensive care, including access to safe and legal abortions and affordable contraception. Women (and men!) everywhere have a right to these same services but, because of lack of access, education, or power to make decisions about their own reproductive health, are unable to plan and space their pregnancies. This can lead to further resource depletion, social instability, and maternal and child mortality and morbidity. 

As caregivers and resource-managers, women are also disproportionately affected by climate change. While it may not seem like an obvious connection, in addition to health and psychological benefits, ensuring women have access to their family-planning method of choice also has environmental benefits. According to studies conducted in the past few years, guaranteeing access to voluntary family planning could be "one of the most cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050."

Our inalienable, interrelated, and interdependent rights, defined by the United Nations -- the right to clean air, water, and soil  -- are inextricably linked to women's access to comprehensive, voluntary, reproductive health care. We must continue to recognize and strive for the protection of all of these inalienable rights. The planet and future generations depend on it.

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