Anna has five children, or in the words of her mother-in-law, not enough.
The first time health workers from PSI Tanzania came to her house, Anna’s mother-in-law wouldn’t even let them through the door. She was misinformed, citing myth after myth about contraception. But Anna wants to plan her family, and space any future children so that she can ensure their health and give them a better education.
“There are lots of Annas who have barriers and cannot access services,” said Victoria Marijani, the Program Manager for Reproductive Health Services at PSI Tanzania.
Providing women everywhere with the family planning services they want, and the potential impact that can have, was the focus of a Senate briefing put together by PAI Friday. The panel, moderated by PAI President Suzanne Ehlers, featured Marijani, as well as Valerie DeFillipo, the brand-new Director of Family Planning 2020; Ellen Starbird, the new Director of Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID; and Harvard economist David Canning, who co-authored the Lancet article “The Economic Consequences of Reproductive Health and Family Planning.”
The discussion made the connections between reproductive health and development, and showcased, in Canning’s words, the “enormous opportunities” that come with making women and their needs a priority.
“Development is a best buy,” Ehlers said. “Let’s not forget it, and let’s…get that message in front of those who, for whatever reason, haven’t heard it for the past 30 years. Emphasis on family planning, and women’s sexual and reproductive health, is completely a multiplier investment for nations.”