Just in time to celebrate International Woman’s Day, Catherine Eng contributes this blog post that celebrates a medical solution to family planning that many take for granted and yet remains out of reach 52 years later to millions of women around the world.
Country music legend Loretta Lynn was known for lyrics that bluntly addressed issues in the lives of many women. She believed no topic was off limits, as long as it spoke to other women.
In 1975, Lynn released The Pill, a single considered to be the first song to discuss birth control. The song tells a story of a wife who is upset about her husband getting her pregnant year after year, but is now happy because she can control her own reproductive choices. The song’s frank discussion of birth control was unprecedented at a time when many would have considered contraception a risqué subject matter. Some radio stations refused to play her song on these grounds.
“There’s gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill…‘cause now I’ve got the pill.”
Be sure to click on the video link below to listen and laugh.
In an interview later in life, Lynn recounted how she had been congratulated after the song’s success by a number of rural physicians, telling her how The Pill had done more to highlight the availability of birth control in isolated, rural areas, than all the literature they’d released.
Fifty-two years after the inception of the pill in America, conservative newscaster Rush Limbaugh felt free to call Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown university student who asked her university to cover hormonal birth-control, a prostitute and a whore. His ignorant comment reminds us that there still exist widespread misconceptions and stigmas surrounding contraception. Let’s take the opportunity on International Women’s day to clear up any misconceptions, to examine the many social benefits of contraception and family planning.
How did you recognize the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day March 8? If you haven’t yet signed the “Million for a Billion” petition to tell Congress you want them to fund international family planning and save the lives of so many women and children around the world, please do so here. This is one meaningful way to honor the women who founded IWD to promote equality for women, including the right to vote and hold public office. Another is to reach out to help another woman. Today’s guest post from Kathy Korman Frey, entrepreneur in residence at George Washington University School of Business and founder of The Hot Mommas Project tells just such a story. Read on, and keep reading for a roundup of some of the best of IWD posts:
A dignified, beautiful, African-American woman stood at the podium during the Wake Forest Women’s Weekend. All eyes were on Esther Silver-Parker, one of the most senior former executives at Wal-Mart and now president of the Silver-Parker Group. Would she talk about women’s advancement to the C-suite? Would she share her secrets to success? That, she did. And one of them was not at all what we expected.
Silver-Parker grew up in rural North Carolina, in a two-bedroom house, with her parents and many siblings. She recounted a screenplay-like story about a group of women she called: The Front Porch Ladies. “The Front Porch Ladies were the women who sat on their front porches as we came home from school,” Silver-Parker said. “They would treat our business like it was their business.”
When Silver-Parker was accepted to college, imagine her surprise when the Front Porch Ladies showed up on her front porch. There they all stood, having brought with them a full set of blue luggage for her to take off to school. “From time to time at college, I would get letters from the Front Porch Ladies,” Silver-Parker told the audience. “They would write words of encouragement, and sometimes include a dollar or two.”
It’s time to hold world leaders accountable for their promises. Seventeen years ago world leaders gathered in Cairo, Egypt, and declared access to reproductive health care to be a universal right, but for many that right has not been realized. An estimated 215 million married women in the developed world want to avoid a pregnancy, but are not using a modern method of birth control. Tens of millions of young men and women are at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
It’s time to make access to contraceptives and reproductive health care a reality, not just a right. Need another reason? By giving women the power to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies we save lives. Every year 365,000 women, many of them too young to bear children, die as a result of pregnancy-related causes.
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