You guessed it: Education is the key to helping women and girls live a happy and full life.
Unfortunately, women and girls can’t always access the information they need. Recently, access to information about reproductive healthcare like family planning services has become even more limited due to the global gag rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy), which is an American policy signed into law by every Republican president since 1984.
In the past, the global gag rule prevented organizations that shared information or provided access to abortions from receiving US funding for family planning. That has been a big problem, not only because it limits women’s options, but also because it cuts funding to organizations who provide services such as STI screenings, HIV/AIDS education and treatment, and even free condoms and sex ed classes. But because those organizations also spoke about abortion as an option, they were cut off from funding for all of their family planning services. This has historically resulted, ironically, in an uptick of global abortion rates; because so many organizations end up without their U.S. aid funding, they have to cut back on their overall services -- and when communities don’t have full access to those family planning services, the result is a higher rate of unwanted pregnancies.
The current iteration of the global gag rule goes one step further: It applies to health organizations and services even outside of the realm of family planning. This means that an organization who lists ‘abortion’ as a topic of discussion in their materials is potentially at risk for losing health funding for treating things like malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
This expansion will cut $9.5 billion dollars in global health funding, affecting organizations in low and middle income countries. The oldest sexual health clinic in Kenya has already lost $2 million in funding and laid off 6 out of 10 staff members. They’re fighting to keep vital health services for women and children. Want to learn more about how they are resisting this harmful policy?
Ultimately having access to healthcare at all levels will help women to live longer and more successful lives. Areas with the lowest rates of education for girls also have high maternal death rates. Better education = better health, which sounds like a win-win to us.
With access to safe healthcare, healthy girls grow up to be women who reach their full potential. If and when they choose to become mothers, these women raise healthy girls and the cycle continues. There is much work to be done before every woman has complete access to reproductive and maternal health, but we know one thing for sure: The first step is education. Watch this video to learn more about how education impacts health for women and girls globally.