“I am from South Africa and contraceptives are not easily accessible,” an anonymous woman said in a voicemail calling on world leaders to invest in family planning.
“Most teenagers are embarrassed to go to clinics to seek advice and know about contraceptives because they get teased and people around will know that they are having sexual intercourse. Teenage pregnancy is rife here and we need to do something,” she explained.
Her story is one of 3,000 that Global Citizen has received since April, as part of an action taken by 80,000 people to gain support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies program. The program cannot continue to provide millions of girls and women with access to sex education, safe contraception, and life-saving childbirth medicines, without more funding.
Global Citizen shared a video highlighting three of the voicemails we've received at UNFPA’s event “Road to Nairobi!” as part of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 26.
“I grew up in Idaho and I had access to medical care but I grew up in a very conservative community, so I ended up a 15-year-old teenage mother, and a month after I had my child I suffered complications from childbirth,” another woman said in a voicemail message.
“I bled out on the table in the emergency room, and luckily they were able to bring me back, but it was just a very severe consequence of my lack of education,” she added.
Celebrate International #DayoftheGirl with us! 👧🏽👧🏻👧🏿— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) October 11, 2019
When girls have equal opportunities, they can transform their lives and communities. Join us in raising your voice and take action to stand up for girls all over the world 🌎 → https://t.co/v8mtHLFqX7#SheCanPlanpic.twitter.com/9F5a8jCvlZ
Early pregnancies are a global issue but are more likely to occur in marginalized communities affected by poverty, a lack of education and employment opportunities. The highest rates of early pregnancy are found in sub-Saharan African countries.
The shame and stigma attached to family planning results in serious consequences for adolescent girls and their families. Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among teenage girls worldwide, and babies born to young mothers face higher rates of infant mortality than babies born to women above the age of 18.
Girls who experience early pregnancy are also more likely to experience intimate partner violence and drop out of school.
Global Citizen is inviting leaders to join the Nairobi Summit, a high-level conference in November, where governments will be asked to pledge new funds to support UNFPA Supplies. The summit marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action which aims to prioritize sexual and reproductive health to ensure the well-being of the world. ICPD is emphasizing the need to ensure that no one is left behind and all people have access to education and health services. To achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the ICPD Program of Action must reach its target to empower all women and girls.