214 million women want to postpone or avoid pregnancy but do not have access to contraception. They are not able to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies.
Holding back development More than half of all women in low and middle income countries between the ages of 15 and 49 want to avoid or postpone pregnancy and 214 million women in that group do not have access to modern contraception methods. However, family planning, or information on and access to contraception and fertility treatment, is essential for the health and development opportunities of women and their families.
Family planning is of vital importance for mothers and children It is estimated that if the demand for family planning was fulfilled approximately 76,000 women’s lives could be saved, the deaths of 480,000 newborn babies avoided and almost half a million children could be prevented from losing their mothers each year. Because many women do not have access to contraception they are often pregnant at a (very) early age or they are pregnant again too soon after the birth of a child. This means that their own, their baby's and their other children's health is put at serious risk.
Emancipation indicator If women are able to determine how many children they would like and when, they will be able to combine their desire for children with other ambitions in their life such as studying or working. The extent to which women can determine for themselves whether or not to have children and control the use of contraception are, therefore, some of the main indicators of female emancipation.
Economically and ecologically justified Fewer unplanned pregnancies and smaller families reduce the demand for expenditure on health, water, sanitation, social services and the pressure on natural resources. Both families and governments would consequently benefit from individuals and couples being able to determine the size of their families for themselves.