The Real Gamechanger for Women’s Empowerment Initiatives – Family Planning

The Real Gamechanger for Women’s Empowerment Initiatives – Family Planning

by Carolyn Rodehau
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Improving access to #familyplanning will improve women’s ability to climb the ladder in the formal economy @CSRwire

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Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 12:30pm


The makeup of the workforce has changed worldwide. Increasingly, women have become a driving force in our global economy particularly in developing economies. Many institutions, including multinational companies – from Nike to Walmart to KPMG – have recognized the need to proactively expand economic opportunities for women by fostering entrepreneurship, strengthening financial literacy, and promoting women into management positions.  Yet, for all the emphasis on empowering women in business, there is a danger of undermining these vital efforts by ignoring a key enabling factor for women to take advantage of these opportunities – access to safe, voluntary family planning and reproductive health education and services. Such services remain largely ignored when business designs women’s empowerment programs and initiatives. 

The demographics of today’s global workforce make the case: participation in the formal workplace by women sharply increases between ages 20-24 and peaks between ages 25-35, the years in which family planning and reproductive health services are most essential.  A woman's ability to enter the job market, hold a job and get promoted depends on her ability to control when she wants to have children and how many.  Entrepreneurship, fair pay, board and management representation are important issues, but such programs can be little more than distant dreams for hundreds of millions of women in the bottom portion of the economic pyramid who still struggle to control their family size while seeking and maintaining basic employment. 

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Carolyn Rodehau with Meridian Group International, Inc., serves as the Program Associate for workplace policy and programming on the USAID-funded Evidence Project. In this capacity, Ms. Rodehau supports the management and implementation of the RAISE Health Initiative and the Cambodia Worker Health Coalition, which focus on advancing policy change around corporate policies and programs to expand access to women’s health services and family planning in low and middle income countries. Prior to joining the Evidence Project, she served as the Program Manager for the Health and Nutrition Global Initiative at Save the Children (SC), which ensures the delivery of quality programming across SC’s global Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) portfolio through technical capacity strengthening, communications, and knowledge management activities targeting the organization’s seven regional offices and 48 country offices.