Representatives from 180 countries gathered at The Hague this week for an international population conference. The conference was organized by the United Nations Population Fund as a follow-up to the last large-scale U.N. population conference in Cairo, Egypt, where conference participants drafted a 20-year-plan to limit population growth and grant women reproductive freedom. Delegates participating in the current conference will assess progress made since the Cairo conference and develop further strategies for change.
Hillary Clinton delivered a 30-minute speech in which she described successful family-planning projects in Haiti, Indonesia, El Salvador, and India, and condemned limits on women’s reproductive freedom through bans on abortion, restrictions on contraception, and forced sterilization. “Today I hope we can agree first and foremost that government has no place in the personal decisions a woman makes about whether to bring a child into the world,” Clinton said to an exuberant crowd. “That is a decision that should be made freely and responsibly without government coercion,” she continued.
Clinton argued that empowering women and children is in the world’s best interest, given that women who empowered and educated will actively seek to limit their childbearing. “No nation can move forward when women and children are trapped in an endless cycle of poverty,” she concluded.
Reports from this week’s meeting will be summarized and presented to the Commission on Population and Development this March before being introduced at the United Nations General Assembly meeting this summer.