International Woman’s Day: Empowering women begins with reproductive rights

7 March 2024

Media Releases 2024


Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has endorsed the theme of this year’s International Woman’s Day , namely, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’,  which is aimed at tackling women’s economic disempowerment.

SPA says, however, that economic progress for women is conditional on a number of factors, not least the ability to determine when (or indeed if) they have children, the number of children and the spacing between.

SPA national president Ms Jenny Goldie says this not only requires having access to contraception that is appropriate for them, but also freedom from cultural and religious pressures to have many children.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Programme of Action on Population and Development, when all nations agreed to adequately fund family planning at home and abroad. But funding didn’t grow, it shrank. In 2019, the Guttmacher Institute estimated the shortfall was US$5.5 billion per year. This investment, they calculated, would avoid 21 million unintended births and 45 million abortions, as well as 70,000 maternal deaths every year.

“If we want to invest in women, that is an excellent place to start,” says Ms Goldie.

“Before women can achieve economic empowerment, they need an education,” she added. “Too many girls, however, fail to finish their education because of poverty or a lack of schools for girls. Too many drop out because they fall pregnant. Too many girls under the age of 18 become child brides. It is a violation of human rights and must be stopped.

“Women also need to be free from harassment and exploitation in the workplace. They need their husbands or male partners to step up and do their fair share in terms of domestic work.

“Investing in these areas is needed to create the conditions for women to flourish. Beyond this, investing in women’s economic enterprises is an excellent idea that needs full support. Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Muhammad Yunus in 1976 showed that lending money to women without requiring collateral allowed thousands of women to start successful small enterprises.”

From its beginning, Grameen Bank has made it a priority to empower women and involve them in economic activities. As a result, 98% of its borrowers are women, more than two-thirds of whom have moved on to better lives, escaping poverty.

Ms Goldie says that, despite successes like the Grameen Bank, little can be achieved without gender equality.

“Gender equality is the 5th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Yet gender inequality persists everywhere. On average, women in the labor market still earn 23 percent less than men globally.

“All women are asking for is a level playing field. They need equality, education, contraception, access to capital to start a business if they wish, and freedom from exploitation and harassment. If they have these things, everyone benefits, not just the women themselves.”


Family Planning , IWF , Media Releases 2024 , womens empowerment
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