Written by: Abby Gopsill
In many developing countries, the majority is not properly educated on the topics of contraceptives. This creates a huge divide between developed and developing countries, and helps to keep developing countries in states of poverty. There are roughly 222 million women – bone in six women of reproductive -age in the developing world who want to delay or end childbearing. The need for contraceptives is obvious: 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, 25% are unwanted. Over the past 30 years, the global use of contraceptives has increased drastically, but developing countries lag behind. In some countries, less than 10% of the population is having safe sex.
In 2012, the United Nations recognized birth control as a human right. This brings to question why, almost three years later, this is still an issue.
Increasing awareness and use of contraceptives would improve mortality rates drastically. Another $12 billion invested in maternal health would reduce unintended pregnancy rates by 66%, unsafe abortion rates by 73%, and prevent 70% of maternal and 40% of newborn deaths. It would allow women at risk of health problems or death because of the timing of their pregnancies to decide when/if they wanted to conceive.
Ayatu Nure, a 65 year old living in Ethiopia, has 78 children between his 12 wives. When he was younger, Ayatu’s land was bountiful, but now it cannot feed all his children. Thirteen of his children live with their married siblings, his first wife has moved onto his eldest son’s property to raise her biological children, and he is marrying off his two 15-year-old daughters, all in a desperate attempt to keep his children alive. He now works to educate the community about family planning. In the region Ayatu is from, it is normal for men to have four wives and for each wife to have five children. The country’s population is growing at a rate of 2.7% annually, and at the current rate the population could double in 24 years. This will deplete Ethiopia’s already scarce resources, pushing the country further into poverty.
Gender equality is not the reality of the developed world, but in developing countries it is even farther from actuality. In some areas, single women and teenagers are prohibited from accessing any form of birth control. Married women have an easier time acquiring contraceptives, however, they often cannot access birth control if their partner doesn’t want them to.
When young women and girls are married off too early, they are denied education. Of the world’s illiterate population, two thirds are women. Girls are raised to become mothers and are expected to focus on domestic responsibilities not education. Half of all girls in developing countries have children before age 18, and one in seven girls are married by 15. It’s been proven that educating girls and empowering women has positive effects on society.
Family planning is a human right, just like clean water and freedom. Better access to contraceptives can mean a better life in developing countries. This will bring the human race a step closer to a completely developed world, so why not take it?