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ReflectionsOnRio2012_KimLovell

ReflectionsOnRio2012_KimLovell

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Published by jdash9
Kim Lovell (Sierra Club) was at the 2012 Rio Conference. Here are her observations.
Kim Lovell (Sierra Club) was at the 2012 Rio Conference. Here are her observations.

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Published by: jdash9 on Jun 30, 2012
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06/30/2012

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Reflections on Rio: Reproductive Rights, Measuring Success, and WhyI Never Had Time to Get in the Water 
Kim Lovell Program Director, Sierra Club Global Population & Environment Program
Sitting in a circle on a bright Tuesday morning in central Rio, a group of bubbly Brazilianteenagers are talking sex. While not an uncommon conversation for the girls -- a group of peereducators from a favela called Cachoeirinha -- today is a little bit different. Not only is the roomwhere they're gathered especially crowded, and filled with English accents chirping above theirlyrical Portuguese, today the girls are asked questions that extend far beyond sexual health."What are the three most important needs in your life?" asks one of the many NGOrepresentatives gathered around the teens, listening intently to their dialogue. The group talksamongst themselves, and finally responds: "Safety and security, job availability, and a cleanenvironment." In a city exploding with new residents, challenged by the task of providingamenities like electricity and trash collection to its ever-growing population, with huge gapsbetween rich and poor and an unsettling dichotomy between the white sand beaches of Ipanema and the crowded favelas creeping up the once-green hills, the priorities of theseyoung people ring true for each and every one of us in the room.The morning's conversation begins with access to sexual and reproductive health and rights(SRHR), but quickly grows to a broader discussion of what those services and rights mean forwomen's families and futures -- namely protection from gender-based violence, autonomy andindependence, pregnancy timing and spacing that allows for employment outside the home,and a sustainable, clean environment in which to raise children. It becomes clear that eachyoung person in the room is a living example of the connections between health, rights, andsustainability -- the connections that brought us to Rio de Janeiro to hear their stories.A few hours later, after leaving theBEMFAMoutpost where these young people graciouslyshared their thoughts on reproductive health and a sustainable future, I'm once again sitting ina windowless conference room at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development,orRio+20. Flipping through emails, I see that thenegotiating textfor the Rio outcome
 
document has been finalized -- and has removed language on sexual and reproductive rightsand adolescents.The enormous disconnect between the political game taking place inside the halls of RioCentroand the reality of young people's lives a few miles away is striking. In a world where 215 millionwomen have an unmet need for family planning, and when meeting this need improves health,bolsters economies, helps women better manage resources, aids in climate mitigation andadaptation, fosters gender equity, and promotes sustainable communities, it's appalling thatthis language is excluded from a document designed to create "The Future We Want."A future where the rights of young people to make decisions about their sexuality are notguaranteed is not a future we want. An outcome document with minimal progress for women'srights and health does not create the future we want. The NGO community has worked hardthese past few days and months, hosting events and panels to highlight the connections

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