Nearly 10,000 Australian citizens have thrown their weight behind an online campaign calling on the Australian Government to ensure that cuts to overseas aid don’t undermine women’s and girl’s right to decide what happens to their body, the size of their family - their future.
The petition was handed in by the Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Tewodros Melesse, to the Executive Committee of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (PGPD) in Canberra on Tuesday 11 August.
The PGPD representatives included chair and Liberal member of the House of Representatives the Hon Dr Sharman Stone plus the parliamentary group’s vice chairs Labor Senator Claire Moore, Green Senator Lee Rhiannon.
Mr Melesse said: “For many months now, Australia’s overseas aid has been targeted for budget cuts. We know that foreign aid works and the key foundation of its effectiveness is proper investment in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). If women and girls are able to decide when they have children and at what intervals then it has a stabilising effect, in their families, their communities and their countries.”
“SRHR saves lives. With Australia’s support IPPF has been able to save the lives of more than 1,300 mothers in the past four years”
“But cuts could destroy years of progress made on the critically important area of reproductive and sexual health – such as family planning, education and maternal health.”
Dr Stone raised the issue of family planning and support for women and girls by tabling the petition in the House of Representatives on Thursday 13 August, she said “In Australia, we have a focus on women and girls in our foreign aid program. I am so proud that now, when funds—which are, of course, taxpayer funds—are directed to aid projects, some 80 per cent of those projects must reflect the needs of women and children, particularly women and girls.”
“The International Planned Parenthood Federation, which has recently opened a branch office in Australia and has long been supported through the Australian aid program, in very recent times has launched an online campaign calling on the Australian community to pledge their support to maintain Australia's longstanding and generous commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights. There was an extraordinary response to this online campaign. This is, in fact, a powerful statement that Australians understand that sexual and reproductive health and rights are critical to empowering and supporting women and girls and promoting economic growth.
Image Tewodros Melesse with the Executive Committee of the Australian PGPD, the Hon. Sharman Stone (Liberal) and Chair of the PGPD, Senator Claire Moore (Labor) and Senator Lee Rhiannon (Greens) who are both the Vice Chairs of the PGPD.