The United Nations Foundation has awarded NASW grant funding to help promote awareness of the importance of access to quality reproductive health services in the U.S. and abroad.
With the grant funding, NASW will develop and adapt content, messaging and resources focused on reproductive health and family planning, linking domestic and international perspectives. It also will provide a catalyst for social workers and leaders at the chapter, university and grassroots levels to raise awareness and educate others on domestic and international family planning issues.
Initially, NASW will partner with Advocates for Youth, an organization dedicated to helping young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health, to engage Washington social work students in forums to discuss the importance of reproductive health and family planning in their own lives and the lives of those in developing countries. Then NASW will hold three forums for social work practitioners across the country, building on the discussion with social work students.
“Family planning and access to a full range of reproductive health services are basic to meeting family needs,” said Amy Bess, NASW senior practice associate for human rights and international affairs, echoing NASW’s policy. “Social workers around the globe work with people who are affected by power imbalances, which hinder people’s freedom to make their own healthy decisions and access quality reproductive health services.”
Bess said NASW’s policy articulates the social worker’s role.
“As social workers, we support the right of individuals to decide for themselves, without duress and according to their own personal beliefs and convictions, whether they want to become parents, how many children they are willing and able to nurture, the opportune time for them to have children, and with whom they may choose to parent,” according to Social Work Speaks (8th Ed.).
In addition to supporting client self-determination, Bess said social workers are ethically bound to provide information that allows clients to access services that will help them maintain their own health and that of their families.
The initiative is part of the UN’s “End poverty by 2015” millennium campaign, which calls on nations to meet eight goals:
- End hunger
- Provide universal access to education
- Achieve gender equity
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV and AIDS
- Environmental sustainability
- Ensure global partnership.
The heads of state of 189 countries, including the U.S., pledged to meet the goals at the 2000 UN Millennium Summit in New York.
Millennium Goal No. 5 calls on nations to reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio and increase the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel. It also calls on them to achieve universal access to reproductive health (including access to antenatal care), improve the contraceptive prevalence rate and access to family planning, and decrease the adolescent birth rate by 2015.
NASW’s International Committee serves as the project’s advisory committee.