Climate change is inextricably linked with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender equality. Any efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation therefore need to include SRHR and recognize and address systems of inequality, including both the racist and colonial roots of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights and impacts of climate change.
The worsening climate crisis is disrupting access to SRHR services, especially for groups that face additional barriers due to race, ability, indigeneity, sexual orientation or gender. Yet the solutions to both climate change and SRHR challenges are often couched in terms of individual responsibility to make a difference—for instance, by using public transportation—rather than changes by systems, governments and industries that can achieve impact at scale. As one of the biggest contributors of climate emissions and the largest family planning donor, the United States (U.S.) in particular should take a leadership role in policy reform and industry regulation, in a manner that addresses the harmful impacts of climate change while advancing SRHR.
This brief provides an overview of the connections between climate change and sexual and reproductive health and rights, outlining specific recommendations the U.S. government can take in its foreign policy and assistance that will advance progress on both of these related issues.