This past Thursday, PAI brought together a crowd of over 100 individuals to talk about reproductive rights and the role advocacy plays in helping women access the care they need, regardless of their socio-economic situation or the country or community where they live. The room was full of individuals of all types—including philanthropists, service providers and organizers—and lots of great conversation ensued about the work at hand and the challenges ahead.

The topic for the evening was the Global Gag Rule—a policy that has been implemented, revoked and reinstated under different U.S. administrations, with deep implications on family planning clinics and the women they serve in countries across the developing world.


Panelists, from left: Suzanne Ehlers, PAI President & CEO; Eric Brown, Communications Director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Shalini Nataraj, Director of Advocacy and Partnerships at the Global Fund for Women.

The Gag Rule, as well as other harmful policy restrictions, underscore that the U.S. is an influential policymaker globally, and our political battles impact women in far reaches of the globe. The same fight we face here to protect women’s reproductive autonomy and to promote access to contraceptive is too often exported abroad, where U.S foreign assistance can bring a world of good, or be a barrier to women receiving the care and fulfilling the rights they need and deserve.

To us at PAI, it’s simple: all women deserve reproductive rights, no matter their nationality. Yet within the reproductive rights community, domestic and international work are driven and funded by different communities that don’t often intersect. Part of our work at events such as this one is to pull back the curtain and show that the same policies, biases and restrictions that impact a woman in South Dakota impact a woman in Bangladesh. Both women need champions, and both women need good policies to make services a reality.

Did you attend “Championing Women Worldwide: Reproductive Rights from New York to Nairobi?”? Share your reflections in the comments!