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Celebrating Women's History Month: International Women's Day

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WHM_IWD_small.jpgHappy International Women's Day!

Today, we celebrate women's efforts and achievements in political, social, and economic sectors across the globe.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where our pro-choice president works to protect and expand women's reproductive freedoms. But just as our president and Congress largely determine whether reproductive-health care stays accessible in the U.S., these elected officials also influence what kind of care women can access in different countries.

During his first week in office, pro-choice President Barack Obama repealed an anti-choice policy known as the global gag rule. It blocked U.S. funding for family-planning to overseas health centers that provide or even give referrals for abortion care.

When the global gag rule was in place under previous anti-choice presidents like George W. Bush, overseas groups were forced to close health centers, cut staff, and raise fees. Thousands of women and families in need of public-health services were turned away from under-funded clinics that would have otherwise been able to provide them with family-planning services, including contraception.

That's not the only way that U.S. policy affects women's lives around the world.

Even though the United Nations declared that contraception is a universal human right, constant cuts to overseas family-planning aid, such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), create a constant struggle for low-income women in developing countries to access to affordable contraception.

That's why it's critical that our policies help - not hurt - women and families around the globe. In honor of International Women's Day this year, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and 22 of his colleagues signed a letter calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to advance the United Nation's initiatives on gender equality and empowering women:

"We must continue to build on the progress made to advance the political, economic, social, and civil status of women and girls over the past four years. These actions are critical components of our efforts to promote global stability, peace, and economic growth."

While we continue to fight for safe, legal abortion and access to affordable contraception here at home, we must acknowledge the struggles of women worldwide, and voice our support for funding for international family-planning programs and reproductive-health services.

Check out a graphic we're sharing Facebook and share it with your friends to raise awareness about the important work that lies ahead on International Women's Day.

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