About Why We Care

The United Nations Foundation and The Aspen Institute partnered on this groundbreaking collection of essays that chronicle the history and the commitment of the fifteen leaders profiled here will always be remembered. Their stories tell what lit the spark in them, what made them care about the centrality of reproductive health to development, dignity, and prosperity. Their stories inspire, motivate, unite. They are stories for change.

While the issue of reproductive rights has become sensitive – even toxic – we know we cannot allow it to remain that way. Access to reproductive health is not a marginal issue; it is a mainstream issue. The issues of food security, the environment, water, and economic development are all connected to and dependent on a family’s ability to choose when and how many children they will have.

The stories recorded here are testament to the commitment and engagement that is being asked of all of us. These stories demand universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – to address the unmet need of more than 200 million women the world over for reproductive health services.

About the United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation connects people, ideas and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. We are an advocate for the UN and help take its best work to scale through advocacy, partnerships, constituency building and fundraising.

Addressing the needs and rights of women and girls across the globe is essential to alleviating poverty, achieving social justice, and accelerating progress on all of our global development goals.

The UN Foundation believes that empowering women and girls with educational and economic opportunities and securing their health and human rights is one of the best investments we can make for families, communities, and the world. We work with the UN and our NGO, corporate and government partners to promote gender equality; advance sexual and reproductive health and rights (including family planning); advocate for increased resources and funding for programs and activities benefitting adolescent girls; eliminate gender-based violence; combat climate change; and improve maternal health care using integrated health systems and mobile technology.

The UN Foundation’s Universal Access Project works to achieve universal access to reproductive health care – Millennium Development Goal 5 – which leads to healthier women, stronger families, and more stable, prosperous communities.
Learn more about the UN Foundation's Universal Access Project.

When progress is made in improving the rights of women and girls, our world thrives.

About Aspen’s Global Health and Development

Most of the developing world will not reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in health, hunger and poverty reduction, and gaping inequities in health and income remain between the developed and developing world. The last decade has seen progress in reduction of major diseases and in poverty reduction, yet developing country health systems are fragile and large percentages of populations still do not have access to food and basic health care. Integrating health, food security and poverty alleviation strategies is essential for accelerating progress towards the MGDs.

GHD believes that pioneering strategies in global health, food security and poverty alleviation can be taken to scale, in part through broad policy debate and support, innovative public-private partnerships, decentralized capacity building, cross learning linkages, and systematic efforts to support replication and scale-up.

About the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

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.

Why We Care would not have been possible without the support and generosity of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development. We are also grateful to Lyndon Haviland for her exceptional partnership on this project, and to the brilliant and tireless work of our editor and my sister Ann Espuelas, and to our special photographer Dominic Chavez and designer Silvia López Chavez. Thank you also to the dedicated and wonderful Aspen GHD staff members Marissa Mommaerts, Shannon Mills, Gwen Hopkins, Elise Mann, Katie Drasser, Rachel Feely-Kohl, and May Doherty.