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Improving Health Of Women And Girls


Pregnant women watch television as they wait in the prenatal ward at a maternity hospital in Sierra Leone.

The Obama administration is strongly committed to achieving reproductive health and protecting human rights, both domestically and around the world.

In September 1994, representatives of 179 member states of the United Nations gathered in Cairo and adopted by consensus the International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD Program of Action. Thus the body agreed to work toward universal education, reduction of maternal, infant and child mortality, and universal access to reproductive health.

In mid April, at the 44th Session of the Commission on Population and Development, Margaret Pollack, Director for Multilateral Coordination and External Relations at the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration said that although great progress has been made in many areas since 1994, the issues to be addressed under this year’s theme — fertility, reproductive health, and development — are important for all of us, and for generations to come.

"Access to reproductive health services, including family planning, is a central element of the United States' development work. [We] recognize that the cycle of poverty can only be broken by empowering women and that improving women’s health, particularly their access to comprehensive reproductive health care, is essential," said Margaret Pollack.

"For women and adolescents to realize their full potential, they must be able to control their own fertility and achieve the highest attainable standard of sexual and reproductive health. These agreements further recognize the right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children."

Director Pollack said that the Obama administration is strongly committed to achieving reproductive health and protecting human rights, both domestically and around the world. Through the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. "aims to provide a package of integrated health services based on strong health systems that emphasize country ownership," she said.

"We ... recognize that the health of women is closely linked to the health of their own children and the strength of future generations. Investing in women’s health is therefore key to the social and economic development of communities and nations. ... We will continue working closely with our counterparts worldwide — not only in the ministries of health, but with foreign ministers, defense ministers, finance ministers, prime ministers and presidents — to achieve our shared commitments to reproductive health and gender equality."

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