“Why We Care” Paints Intimate Portraits of Why Global Leaders Support Access to Reproductive Health

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Aspen global health and development and the united nations foundation unveil groundbreaking book to coincide with London Summit on family planning

Why We Care: Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, an unprecedented collection of personal stories, unveiled today at the London Summit on Family Planning, highlights a prestigious group of global leaders who share their intense support for reproductive health – an issue that transcends geography and generations. Aspen Global Health and Development and the UN Foundation announced the publication of the book, which was presented as a gift to all Summit attendees. A website devoted to the current essays was also unveiled, with plans to continue to collect essays by high-profile international figures on the importance of reproductive health from their perspectives.

The trailblazing book is part of the global dialogue taking place around the London Summit on Family Planning. This gathering, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, together with UNFPA and other partners, brings together more than 200 high-level representatives of governments, multilateral agencies and foundations from around the world for an unprecedented meeting to tackle the pressing, unmet need for family planning.

Why We Care provides a platform through which Global Leaders on Reproductive Health will focus international attention on the world’s hardest to reach women, who want access to voluntary contraception to build on the momentum set by the London Summit’s goals and commitments.

With a Foreword by Musimbi Kanyoro and Afterword by Peggy Clark, Why We Care includes personal essays by Joyce Banda, Regina Benjamin, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Helen Clark, Jan Eliasson, Tarja Halonen, Annie Lennox, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Maria Otero, Joy Phumaphi, Mary Robinson, Fred Sai, Jenny Shipley, Ted Turner and Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

Accompanying photographs of these global leaders by Dominic Chavez capture the passion of these men and women in a unique collection of portraits.

“This collection of personal essays vividly depicts the intense connection and passion each has for this cause,” said Peggy Clark, Executive Director of Aspen Global Health and Development. “Far from a dry collection of facts and figures, Why We Care brings the issue of reproductive health – central to so many other development issues – to an intimate, ‘storytelling’ level,” Clark added. “These leaders share why they are personally interested in this issue. What moment in time or event lit the spark of change in them, when did they ‘wake up’ to the importance of this issue?”

“Nothing is more personal than the decisions about a person’s body, a person’s health, or the shape and size of a family,” said Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation CEO. “Reproductive health is at the center of these decisions, but for millions of women it is still something that is out of reach. Global leaders understand this connection, and their personal stories are proof that this is an issue that matters to them at a deep, personal level. While they work to put reproductive health on the global agenda as policymakers, this book proves why it matters to them as mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, sisters and brothers,” Calvin added.

To view an online preview of the book, and to read the stories of why these global leaders support access to voluntary family planning, please visit http://www.UNFoundation.org/WhyWeCare.


Aspen Global Health and Development (GHD) works to address persistent global health and development challenges by promoting breakthrough strategies that have the potential to achieve significant impact at scale. We promote and accelerate these solutions by bringing political and thought leaders together to share and advance innovative practices and evidence-based solutions -- working to replicate successful local practices at a global level and strengthening the capacity of developing world leaders to champion and act on these solutions. For more information, visit: http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/global-health-development.

The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a group of eighteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity. Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders will mobilize the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals. For more information, visit: http://www.globalleaderscouncil.org.

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit http://www.unfoundation.org.

On July 11, 2012 the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners will host a groundbreaking summit that will mobilize global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020. For more information, visit: http://www.londonfamilyplanningsummit.co.uk/.

To learn more about and view additional examples of Dominic Chavez’s passionate and poignant photography, visit http://www.dominicchavez.com.

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Shannon Mills
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