UNITED NATIONS -- A 91-year-old Japanese woman who spent most of her life promoting population control and the status of women shared the U.N. Population Award Monday with a Colombian family planning organization.
Shizue Kato, president of the Family Planning Federation of Japan, and the Association for the Welfare of the Colombian Family, a private organization based in Bogota, each received a gold medal and a check for $10,000 from Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
The annual award is given to an individual or an institution for making outstanding contributions to family planning.
Kato founded the first birth-control consultation center in Japan in 1932 and fought for the idea of protecting mothers and children through family planning programs that were non-existent in that country. She was jailed briefly for her activities.
She was also the first women elected to Japan's House of Representatives and sponsored a bill that permits doctors to counsel on contraceptives.
The Colombian organization was chosen for its effective programs in the past 20 years.
Past population award winners included President Hossain Mohammad Ershad of Bangladesh in 1987, the National Population Council of Mexico in 1986, the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1985 and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1983, a year before she was assassinated.