On April 11th a group of Rachel’s Network members had the opportunity to hear remarks from John Podesta of the Center for American Progress on “Women’s rights issues are climate change issues.” The evidence is clear: voluntary family planning empowers women, improves health and resilience, and ultimately reduces the human footprint on the planet. New data shows that investing in gender equity and access to reproductive health care could have a greater impact on climate change than traditional technological approaches such as renewable energy. Yet over 214 million women around the world who want to avoid or delay pregnancy are not using a modern form of contraception.

That’s why the WestWind Foundation has supported the Universal Access Project (UAP) for the last seven years. UAP convenes an innovative group of donors and advocates in a coordinated effort to protect US foreign assistance for international reproductive health information and services. In 2017 alone, UAP leveraged $1 million in pooled funding to safeguard over $600 million in US funding that provided 25 million women and couples with family planning – a remarkable return on investment.

While the US government has led the way on global reproductive health and rights for over 50 years, we have a long fight ahead. I invite others to join us in supporting UAP’s advocacy to ensure that every girl and woman can determine her own future and help to protect the planet. To learn more, please visit UAP’s website.

Rachel’s Network Member Janet Miller is a trustee of the WestWind Foundation, which focuses on environmental programs and reproductive health and rights, primarily in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. These grants have supported NGOs that protect forested ecosystems, especially through habitat and watershed conservation.

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