Women, Rio+20 and the Green Future of the Middle East

overpopulation, reproductive rights, women's rights, family planning, sustainable development, Middle East, futureOn Tuesday thousands of Turkish women and activists sent government ministries a petition protesting the bill proposed by the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) that would ban abortions not taking place between the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy. Turkish law currently allows abortion until the tenth week.

With dwindling environmental resources and rampant poverty exacerbated by rapidly growing populations, family planning is a crucial environmental issue across the Middle East.

According to a recent report by The Jordan Times almost 25 percent of births in Jordan are unplanned because of a lack of available family planning resources.

Iraq and Yemen have especially high fertility rates, with the potential to double their populations by 2100. Qatar and Bahrain also have steadily growing birthrates.

And so as is the case across the planet, but especially so in the Middle East, women’s reproductive rights are intertwined with issues beyond gender equality. Poverty, national security, environmental problems and economic development are all influenced by women’s access to family planning resources.

During the last week of May the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), met in Paris to sign an agreement linking reproductive rights and family planning to climate change, especially in developing countries.

These agreements were created before the Rio+20 U.N. Summit in Brazil in the hopes of making women’s health a priority in global climate talks. Egypt’s Kenana NGO For Women And Youth Development and Dr. Hala Yousry, a representative from an Egyptian Arab women’s group, signed onto the Women’s Rio+20 petition urging the U.N. to link women’s health and equality to sustainable development efforts.

It’s naive to think that a U.N. agreement would automatically impact the planet’s dire overpopulation problem. A woman’s access to family planning is complex, depending on her education, resources and community infrastructure. No ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution would be able to address population control and reproductive rights across the religiously and culturally diverse Middle East. It will not be quick or easy. But finding appropriate, local solutions is vital to the region’s stability.

Image of pregnant woman from Shutterstock

Read more about the growing population in the Middle East:

World Population Hits 7 Billion Today
MENA and the Muslim World: Can Having Less Babies Really Save The World?
Iranian President Wants Girls to Marry at 16

7 thoughts on “Women, Rio+20 and the Green Future of the Middle East

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