Giving Compass' Take:

· Dr. Gita Sen and Samantha Peña Hernández discuss the great shift in conversation surrounding population and reproductive health, the progress being made, and what still needs to be done.

· How can donors help increase global access to sex education and family planning? 

· Read about the growing disparities in reproductive health and rights between U.S. states.

The 1990s ushered in a sea change in the population and reproductive health field, bringing a period of unprecedented energy, groundbreaking international policy change, and a global women’s movement that shifted emphasis from population control approaches to advancing women’s rights. The 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development and the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women were two core drivers of this paradigm shift. Between 1992 and 2000, MacArthur provided $3.1 million for activists, researchers, journalists, and civil society organizations to prepare for, participate in, and follow up on commitments made at these conferences.

How did women from around the world put sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global agenda at Beijing and Cairo? Are these platforms relevant to your work today?

Sen: Women and women’s organizations went into the conference proceedings knowing what we needed and wanted to advocate for in order to advance our sexual and reproductive health and rights goals. That knowledge was based on personal experiences, many years of analysis and understanding of the issues, and intensive mobilization among ourselves and with potential allies. But we had very little political understanding or direct knowledge of multilateral negotiations among member states. What was a huge surprise was how quickly and effectively we learned those things; how smart and savvy we could be in using every formal and informal method possible to achieve our objectives; and how far we could get in our goal of transforming policies away from draconian population control and towards health and human rights.

Read the full interview with Dr. Gita Sen and Samantha Peña Hernández about population and reproductive health at the MacArthur Foundation.