Reproductive rights encompass the right of sexually active persons to choose when, how often, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; how many children to have and when to have them; access to and education about reproductive health and family planning; the freedom from diseases associated with sexual activity; and freedom from sexual violence. These rights are paramount for all women–regardless of age, race, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, or national boundary.
With a worldwide AIDS epidemic predominantly affecting women in developing nations, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, and the repressive views of the Catholic Vatican influencing global policy on women’s health at the United Nations, the need for women’s voices from around the globe to be heard on reproductive rights has never been clearer.
As women and girls are blamed for the spread of AIDS and few resources are devoted to developing microbicides and other promising prevention methods, feminists must raise awareness and demand better policies for our sisters in all nations. As the desired family size decreases but the population rate remains steady in most developing nations, feminists must push for accessible, culturally-sensitive family planning policies and programs to promote contraceptive use, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates, and prevent unsafe abortions.