Nearly 46 million women in the world’s 69 lowest-income countries gained access contraception in the past six years alone, Al Jazeera reports.
The increase is bound to empower women — and the societies in which they live — by ensuring more young girls stay in school and reducing poverty as a result, according to a new report titled “Progress Report 2018,” published by the global organization Family Planning 2020’s (FP2020). Women who have the option to delay pregnancy are more likely to enter the global labor force, start businesses, and invest in their communities.
“The number of children in a family has a lot of impact on other goals — not only for the family but a country as a whole,” Beth Schlachter, FP2020's executive director, told Al Jazeera in an interview.
When people have access to contraception the possibilities are endless. It can be the difference between life and death for many women.
In Afghanistan, where child marriage is very common, there is a higher chance young girls will stay in school, even if they marry young if they have access to contraception, Schlachter explained. Since the FP2020 launched, 1.2 million women are using modern contraception in Afghanistan, which is almost a third more than in 2012.
“We want girls to stay in school and be educated. When women are educated and enter the workforce, every community and every society has a much better chance of raising their economic prospect.” Schlachter said.
“It empowers people to control every aspect of their life.”
FP2020 was established at a family planning summit in London in 2012 to make family planning a bigger global development priority. The organization aims to give another 120 million women and girls access to contraceptives by 2020 by helping each country meet individual goals. Some countries are taking action by raising family budgets or setting a target number of people to whom it will give free condoms.
Rwanda and Burkina Faso are two countries that set their own family planning goals and made an effort to achieve them, according to Schlachter. For example, women in the two African countries now have more contraceptive options than before, allowing them to choose which methods are best for their health.
Currently, 317 million women and girls have access to contraception in 69 of the lowest-income countries in the world — but the FP2020 says it isn’t enough. While the FP2020 has helped 30% more people gain access to contraception than they predicted would have received access without the initiative, the organization is still behind in achieving its deadline. At this rate, the organization estimates it won’t meet its goal until 2025.
NEW: From 2017 to 2018, use of modern #contraception in FP2020 focus countries prevented 119 million unintended pregnancies, 20 million unsafe abortions & 137 thousand maternal deaths. #FP2020Progresshttps://t.co/TfU6d212dW— Family Planning 2020 (@FP2020Global) November 18, 2018
Religious, cultural, and family barriers in other parts of the world make providing contraception access more difficult, like in the Lake Chad region in Nigeria, where women sometimes have between five and seven children, according to FP2020. Communicating the concept that family planning is not just a woman’s issue isn’t always easy either, Schlachter explained.
“The fact that women should have autonomy over their bodies is something that is still an issue in a lot of places,” Schlachter said.
The FP2020 is determined to ensure as many people as possible have the option to become parents on their own terms, no matter their situation. Making contraception accessible to people living in crisis or conflict also needs to be a priority, Schlachter pointed out.
“What I think is most important is that we want to show girls and women in these countries that they have more value than just being a mother,” she said.