Nearly 20 years ago, then First Lady Hillary Clinton declared to the United Nations that "it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights." A core component of women's rights is ensuring that all women have access to quality healthcare.
Products and services that are purchased -- even at very low prices -- are far more likely to be used. Thus, the marketing of contraceptives and family planning services can be a highly cost-effective way of helping couples improve their lives.
We are thrilled to be in Uganda to recognize the achievements of EngenderHealth's Fistula Care project, the largest U.S. government-funded initiative to treat and prevent obstetric fistula in more than 10 countries throughout Africa and Asia.
The disintegration of community and family structures weakens traditional protection mechanisms and alters behavioral patterns. As a result, child-bearing risks are extremely high, sexual violence and exploitation is pervasive and forced or early marriage is not uncommon.
There should be, and always will be, issues that divide the nation, but contraception should not be one of them. Not even close. If ever there was an issue that should unite people on both sides of the aisle, family planning has to be it.
Listen to the clamor this year from the religious right and you would think that most people of faith reject family planning. Hardly. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that support for the use of contraceptives knows no religious bounds.
Providing women and their families with access to an array of effective, evidence-based programs allows them to select the approach that meets their needs and belief systems, is the best strategy to ensure the most lives are saved and families are lifted up.
Both the Global Family Planning Summit and research published in The Lancet potentially obscure the fact that, to be blunt, a wealthy woman in a poor country is likely to have better access to care than a poor woman in a wealthy country.
Time has proven that little else makes a woman as resilient, less vulnerable and mightier in the face of adversity -- be they political attacks or environmental changes -- than control over her reproductive destiny.
In 2011, Congress' cup runneth over with attempts to limit or restrict completely women's health and rights, both at home and abroad. In 2012, there is a presidency at stake -- so what does that mean for women's health and rights in the coming year?
There are still millions of women like Vishnu Maya all over the world. If those women had genuine options in their childbearing and in their lives, we would not be facing the seven billionth birth this month.
By stating simple facts and stepping away from the emotional rhetoric of the past 25 years, the Council on Foreign Relations has paved the way to improved lives for women, mothers and children globally.