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About this Story

This article is the outcome of an initiative World Pulse launched on our online community platform, inviting global grassroots women leaders to outline their personal experiences and recommendations on equitable and sustainable development.

In partnership with Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), we gathered 55 statements representing women from 28 countries ranging from Papua New Guinea to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The stories were delivered via the Women's Major Group to top world leaders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) that will take place June 20-22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This conference marks the 20th anniversary of the first 'Earth Summit' in 1992—a landmark UN summit organized in response to the growing ecological crisis.

Click here to learn more and to read all the powerful submissions.

Rio+20: Highlighting the Voices of Women

"Prioritizing women’s health and helping families access information and resources for family planning is key to protecting our planet."

Ikirimat Grace Odeke, Uganda

© UN Photo/Kibae Park

"There is nothing sustainable about the human impact on the environment now."

Jane Roberts, USA

Recommendation: Prioritize Women's Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care

UGANDA: Using the Lense of Population

Tackling climate change requires new, innovative solutions and ambitious policies. Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of reducing CO2 emissions. Any solution must involve political, economic, social, cultural, and ecological concerns. And perhaps the most important contributing factor to this jigsaw puzzle of a problem is population.

Policymakers often have a blind spot when it comes to reducing population growth to mitigate climate change and global warming. My own country of Uganda has one of the highest population growth rates in the world today, mainly caused by high fertility rates. The average woman of reproductive age has six children. Between 1980 and 2010, Uganda’s population increased by 89%. In comparison, the world population increased by 30% during this same time period.

Population growth aggravates issues of access to water, land, food, and other resources. Of course, it is much easier to talk about how areas of high population growth will be impacted by climate change, rather than how population growth itself is a cause of climate change and other environmental problems.

It is critical that countries like Uganda prioritize lowering fertility rates and changing reproductive behaviors. Prioritizing women’s health and helping families access information and resources for family planning is key to protecting our planet. The bottom line is that putting population at the center of discussions about climate change will yield solutions that can push us toward achieving sustainable development on this earth.

Ikirimat Grace Odeke | Program Officer, Sexual Health Improvement Project (SHIP) | Uganda

USA: Blind on a Sight-Seeing Tour

Issues of population, reproductive health, and women's empowerment seem to be missing from the Rio+20 agenda. Do you as a woman have or have you in the past had access to family planning and/or safe abortion? Was pregnancy always a joy or was one or more pregnancies a burden? Access to the highest standard of reproductive health and to family planning is your human right as established in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development and also in the Millennium Development Goals of the year 2000.

Last October the planet reached the 7 billion human population milestone. According to the Population Division of the United Nations, we will reach 9.3 billion by 2050. All the people now and in the future will want food, safe water, energy, access to education, health, and a job. The planet right now is giving way beneath us. Right now a billion people are hungry. A billion people lack access to safe water and sanitation. The oceans are overfished, forests are disappearing, climate change is wreaking havoc with floods and droughts. There are increasing numbers of climate refugees. Look at Pakistan these last two years with enormous widespread floods. Look at the drought in the Sahel region of Africa causing millions to need food aid. There is nothing sustainable about the human impact on the environment now. It is going to get a lot worse. It is going to get ugly. Wars over resources will abound. Women will suffer violence at the hands of the ignorant and frustrated.

Leaving issues of population and of women's access to education and health and to full gender equality in every realm of civil society off the main Rio agenda is akin to being blind on a sight-seeing tour. I urge leaders to put these issues at the top of their agendas!

Jane Roberts | Co-Founder, 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund | USA . . .


Unless government investments focus on having a quality population and a well managed and sustainable environment , only then can our countries ensure a bright future for the next generations

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Rosa's picture

It's my honor tor have the

It's my honor tor have the chance to post my comment here to stand by your article and express my happiness to see yor post. live in a village in India. Here, the public uses vacant sites and roadsides for toileting and health problems are rampant due to poor sanitation and hygiene. Local administrations have created a number of public toilets for public use, but water scarcity and maintenance of the facilities are major issues. The unclean toilets are causing disease, and there is no sufficient water supply for cleaning them. This drives community members back to open land for toileting.Yes, it's a meaningful article.excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must proceed your writing. I’m confident, you have a great readers’ base already!
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ikirimat's picture


Thank you Rosa for the positive comments. We shall continue to make our voices loud until as one of the approaches as we move towards action. One by one, we shall change attitude. You also point out the serious issue of poor sanitation in our communities especially for girls. I agree and more needs to be done. Together we can change the world to a better place to live in by all.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

richard23's picture


Américains ont investi un montant énorme d'argent à essayer d'obtenir des pays de l'Est de l'emprise de la Russie, tout pour naught.Congress maintenant réunis pour «accélérer sanctions» sur l'Ukraine.
clash of clans hack
Policier mondiale des États-Unis aura bientôt des sanctions à tous les pays du monde, sauf Israël.
Plus de travailleurs américains seront mis à pied .. Quel idiot pays aux États-Unis est devenu!

Sustainable development is all about securing an uncompromisable future for humanity and our ecosystem; and we can only succeed in the drive by tackling the very issues that fuel the embers of exclusion and injustice. Everyone has a role to play and there is something every one can do. The need for man to live in harmony with nature is not negotiable and the earlier we accept this fact and have the will to make certain of that, the better.


Wendyiscalm's picture

This is very eloquent, well

This is very eloquent, well said and true. Thank you.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together)

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Greengirl's picture

Best Wishes!

Many thanks to you! You are an embodiment of encouragement!

Very warm regards,

Olanike Olugboji

Greengirl's picture

Best Wishes!

Many thanks to you! You are an embodiment of encouragement!

Very warm regards,

Olanike Olugboji

ikirimat's picture


Thank you Olanike for adding your voice. Yes people are central in all this issue.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Dear need to move information between people as well as their rights. Care and value is a solidary way to the environment and the lives of our brothers around the world

Frenny Jowi's picture

where is the commitment?

Media reports say the Rio outcome document is weak and lacks ambition. And with the latest environmental assessment report dubbed GEO5 having stated that earth's resources especially the marine ones are still at high risk even after 20 years since Johannesburg summit,that resolved to reverse this kind of degradation among other resolutions, it calls for high will power and commitment by leaders and citizens to save the earth.

I don't how sustainable development can be achieved without linking climate change to sexual and reproductive health: an issue that affect girls and women most.

kind3500's picture


Why will Brazil be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics when there is so much else to be done there? Will the Olympics bring more wealth and awareness to the issues as outlined above , or will it be a distraction, something that will convince the world that everything is okay in Brazil? I believe something needs to be done, and priorities need to be straightened out.


lovepowerrespect's picture

Love one another

It is really important to care and love each other in spite of racial differences.

Paula LaPierre Kichesipirini Algonquin's picture

Kichesipirini Continues...

Thank you so much for the encouraging words. Words are important. Women's views of their own life experiences are a unique perspective of world events and how they play out in the real life grassroots level....We continue to assert, through a fog of misinformation and selective social participation and consultation processes at the State level, that there are ways to avoid these social problems. Many of the solutions have already been established but are not implemented. Brave women must carry on telling the Truth.

Paula LaPierre
Principal Sachem
Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation
Kichi Sibi Anishnabe
Culture is a pillar of sustainable development. Make certain then that is is culture with integrity.

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