We’re only halfway through 2014, but if you follow development news, you may already be tired of hearing about the post-2015 development agenda. There’s been ongoing debate this year about what the world should focus on once the Millennium Development Goals expire—the latest being the United Nations Open Working Group’s proposed list of 17 goals and 170 targets.
Thanks to the hard work of advocates, sexual and reproductive health made that list (Goal 3, Target 3.7 and Goal 5, Target 5.6).
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley, a British parliament member, offered his own set of development goals (just five!) with a different set of criteria: value for money. His list is based on the work of 60 leading economists who reviewed the U.N. targets.
Guess what? Sexual and reproductive health made that list, too.
Ridley’s rationale is one that sounds familiar to us: providing universal access to sexual and reproductive health would save the lives of mothers and infants while enabling women to be more economically productive. It would also lower birthrates (when fewer children die, people have fewer children).
His benefit-to-cost ratio? As high as 150 to 1. Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health was one of just 20 targets the economists rated as a “phenomenal” return on investment.
At PAI, we’ve been longtime proponents of family planning as not only a right, but a cost-effective way to achieve other development goals. We made a video about it. And an infographic, too.
Data backs us up: A study from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) found family planning investments save money in other development areas—including education, immunization, water and sanitation, maternal health, and malaria. For every dollar invested in family planning, savings ranged from $2 in Ethiopia to $9 in Bolivia.
And a landmark study in Bangladesh found that women with access to contraception have 40 percent higher earnings than women who don’t.
The bottom line? When women are healthy and can thrive, communities and nations also thrive. We like to call it “womenomics.”
It’s gratifying to see the Wall Street Journal, known for its coverage of the business world, get on board.