Keeping women at the center keeps a better future in focus

August 12, 2014

Almost 50 years ago, my distant cousin Estelle Griswold did something pretty remarkable: she took on a Connecticut law that banned birth control, brought it all the way to the Supreme Court, and won. Because of her determination, women all over the country get to decide whether and when to have kids (well, unless they’re unlucky enough to work for Hobby Lobby or Eden Natural Foods). So yes, family planning is within reach for most of us, despite the out-of-date objections of the U.S. Supreme Court and crazypants storytelling on Fox News.

But what does this all have to do with sustainability, and with communicating the story of a sane future for people and the planet? Here’s the headline that inspired Resource Media to kick off our Women at the Center website in July: When women gain the power to choose the timing and spacing of their children, families and communities are healthier, happier and more prosperous. So is the planet. And today, over 220 million women around the world can’t access modern contraception even though they don’t want to get pregnant.

So we created a space to tell the inspiring, complicated, and interconnected stories of women’s empowerment and sustainability in words, pictures and video. Telling these new stories matters now more than ever: In September, the nations of the world will start formal negotiations for a new set of sustainable development goals. The draft targets include “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,” along with a variety of other equally important goals whose hopes for success rest at least in part on our achieving those reproductive rights.

That’s right. If we want to successfully tackle poverty, hunger, health, pollution, consumption, and even climate change, we’d do best to start by empowering women with the power to choose the timing and spacing of their children. Because what’s good for women is good for the planet, and that’s a story we can all get behind.

Belinda Griswold