Victory for women

Posted: 29 August 2000

"The Cairo Conference on Population and Development was crucial. It paid a long overdue debt to women, to look at family planning programmes not from a demographic point of view alone or as state policy, but from the point of view of the individual woman."

The speaker is Dr Maria Isabel Plata, Director of Profamilia, the IPPF affiliate in Colombia.

She is speaking on the first People & the Planet video entitled Victory for Women, a half-hour film on reproductive health and the Cairo Programme of Action.

The film homes in on Egypt and Colombia to show how one government programme and one non-governmental organisation are moving in the direction spelt out in the Cairo Programme of Action.

In Egypt, a programme born out of concern for the pressure of population on a very limited resource base has gone a long way to focus its activities on women's reproductive health.

It is a position defended by Dr Mohammed Said Tantawi, the Grand Mufti, Head of the Islamic Church in Egypt, who stresses in the film the importance of family planning as something to be weighed up by the husband and wife together.

Dr Mohammed Said Tantawi© TVE

"Whether for health reasons, or for social reasons, or economic reasons, once there is agreement between two partners, Islamic law has no objection to family planning."

Dr Fred Sai, who chaired the Cairo Conference, goes further in emphasising the concern with the personal needs and development of women: "Women are not just objects in this game. Women are equal partners with men in the total reproductive health field. And just because they produce children biologically they should not be forced or seduced into not having too many children. There are other ways of meeting their needs and fertility aspirations.

"We want to make health care delivery systems look at women's health as a major area of concern in a way that has not been done before, largely because women have not had the power to make their problems known."

It is a message echoed in the film by the voices of village women in Egypt and Colombia, where Profamilia's services are organised around the individual needs of women, men and young people.

Victory for Women, includes highlights of the Cairo Plan of Action and is available in English, French and Spanish versions, with African, Asian and Latin American presenters.

It is the first of a quarterly series of half-hour documentaries jointly sponsored by Planet 21 in association with North South Productions, The Television Trust for the Environment and the International Institute for Environment and Development, with funding support from DANIDA, UNFPA, the European Union and the World Bank.