The 49th session of the Commission on Population and Development took place at the UN headquarters in NYC this week. The task at hand this year was to identify ways to integrate population issues into the sustainable development agenda. For us, April 14 stood out as an especially inspiring day of the gathering because it was the day the Youth Caucus took place. Venoranda Kuboka, a spokesperson for the Youth Coalition, delivered a statement to attendees addressing the need to fulfill sexual and reproductive health rights for young people and to make sexual health services and programs more youth-friendly.
Women at the Center agrees wholeheartedly with Venoranda’s important statement, and we encourage the Commission on Population and Development to look to Colorado for inspiration on how to successfully implement these programs. Right now, Colorado is set to make a critical decision about one of its nationally recognized reproductive rights programs, a move that could impact progress in other states.
In 2009, Colorado implemented a pilot program, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, through which the state provided free long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) to low-income women and improved sexual health and reproductive services in the state. The effort reduced the teen birth rate by 40 percent, created youth-centric sexual health and reproductive rights campaigns, and made health clinics more welcoming to young folks. In addition, 30,000 women throughout Colorado received a form of LARC that worked for them.
Just last week, Colorado lawmakers were weighing the pros and cons of including funding for this program in the state budget—and to the surprise of many, Republicans who once opposed the program have now decided to support funding it.
This win goes to show that when we invest in women and girls, the ripple effects go beyond just them. Our communities also thrive from this kind of investment. By preventing unintended pregnancy through providing free or low-cost contraception, we create more opportunity for young women to graduate high school and seek higher education. Research has shown that 30 percent of teen girls who drop out of high school do so because of pregnancy or parenthood. Also, for every dollar invested in this program, taxpayers will save six dollars.
Last year, we created a short film to create more awareness about CFPI. Please watch the video to hear stories from local women and health care providers on how this program impacted their life and work.
The final decision to approve funding for CFPI is in Governor Hickenlooper’s hands. We urge him to approve this funding so that Colorado can continue to lead the way in proving how investing in women is not only good for them and their families but also for their community and the environment.