Access to sexual and reproductive health care is essential for women’s empowerment, safety, gender quality, and poverty reduction, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Yet millions of women and adolescent girls still lack access to these services, which are so crucial to their well-being and the well-being of their families.
Every day, more than 800 women die from maternal health-related issues, while 214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries aren’t able to reliably access modern contraceptives — which accounts for 84% of unwanted pregnancies in those countries.
This is why Global Citizen has teamed with UNFPA Supplies — the largest public sector provider of contraceptives in the world — to help remind world leaders why women’s sexual and reproductive health matters, and get them to take action to support women and girls.
Last month, we asked Global Citizens to share with us why they want world leaders to defend women’s futures.
The 450 personal messages you shared with us showed incredible depth of feeling on this issue — and will be invaluable in pressuring the UK government to step up.
Last week in New York — ahead of the high-level political forum — we presented your messages to MPs Stephen Gethins, Lord Jack McConnell, and Preet Gill, all of whom said they were deeply moved in support of the campaign for the UK to champion UNFPA Supplies.
Also at the meeting were two activists from global gender equality movement She Decides: Gisela Fox, a 25-year-old lawyer and female rights activist from Brazil, and Patrick Mwesigye, founder and leader of the Youth and Adolescents Health Forum in Uganda.
Here are just a selection of the hundreds of inspiring messages we received from Global Citizens, to help ensure that women and girls who need access to safe contraception and maternal medicines aren’t forgotten:
1. Asha R.
"It should be a basic human right that women can choose whether and when to have children. It’s a big responsibility to carry and raise a child and by not giving women the choice in that, that is unfair both for women and children — who may then be brought into the world without someone who has the resources or ability to care well for them.
"It puts these women in such difficult circumstances which can negatively impact their health in so many ways and cause many problems.
"Simply providing safe contraception will prevent a whole load of other issues further down the line."
2. Sue P.
"Women must be able to plan when and how many children to have. Having large families, especially where children are born very closely together, is dangerous for women’s health and also can lead to poverty."
3. Sue K.
"Safe contraception empowers women. It gives them choice and the ability to be stronger citizens and better mothers. What better investment could there be?"
4. Tracy E.
"Supporting and educating women is key to improving the quality of life for all — please let’s focus our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and a better world by improving family planning, health care, and education for women globally."
5. Jeanette M.
"Even in western society not every baby is born healthy and, sadly, our family has had experience of this in two cases. This emphasises that it is all the more important that women everywhere are given every possible resource to enable them to make safe and informed choices in planning their own families."
6. Hugh G.
"It is incredibly important that all women, regardless of where they were born, where they live, what circumstances they were born into, and how much money they have, are able to choose what happens to their life and their body.
"The availability of contraception and birth medicine should not be restricted to those that are fortunate enough to be able to afford it and readily access it."
7. Shona L.
"The decision to have a child should be anticipated with joy, not associated with fear or dread on how the mother would feed yet another mouth or keep them safe in impoverished and volatile environments."
8. Barbi L.
"I am a doctor and would have been unable to follow my dreams if I had had children. I am not the only one either … Many other lives would be ruined by the responsibility of children. It is essential, I think, to allow women control of when they have children."
9. Alan Y.
"Plea to all politicians: Please do not cut funding to the absolutely vital support that UNFPA provides women around the world. It is an essential support that must not be diminished."
10. Ian L.
"As a former professor of epidemiology at the University of Manchester with a special interest in obstetric and paediatric problems, I am particularly aware of the importance of supporting the UNFPA’s work of saving and protecting women’s lives and health by enabling them to control their fertility and to give birth in as much safety and comfort as possible."
11. Colin M.
"For the future world to be worth living in, young women must be empowered to live their lives as they wish. Their physical and mental health, the control of their fertility, and their level of educational attainment will help shape a just world for us all."
12. Ellen C.
"Access to safe contraception and the ability to give birth in a safe and sanitary environment, as well as receiving any necessary medication during pregnancy and birth is a basic human right. It is vital that funding continues to go to UNFPA so their important work can continue to save lives."
13. Lesley P.
"Look after women and you look after the world."