Why family planning is an issue that should concern us all

9.23.2021 0

Family planning is an issue that should concern us all. When a young woman becomes pregnant before she turns 20, it can deny her the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life. An adolescent who becomes pregnant faces an increased risk of eclampsia and infection. In low- and middle-income countries, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for adolescent girls. Thousands more young women survive childbirth but suffer from pregnancy-related health problems for the rest of their lives.

Unplanned pregnancy interrupts young women's plans in other ways as well. An adolescent who becomes pregnant often drops out of school, reducing her lifetime earning potential and trapping her family in a cycle of intergenerational poverty. Babies born to adolescents are more likely to be born early, malnourished and have poor health.

We are sensitive to the fact that the topic of contraception remains controversial, especially among young people. But many countries have successfully overcome sensitivities and our responsibility to this generation and our common future requirements.

In 2012, 36 countries came together to form a global partnership to support the right of women and girls to decide when to become pregnant. This effort aims to provide an additional 120 million women and girls with access to contraception by 2021. We made progress, reaching an additional 24.4 million women by 2015.

But much less progress has been made in reaching adolescent girls, who continue to experience high unmet need for contraception. It is now clear that any successful attempt to expand contraceptive coverage to adolescents must address the specific challenges faced by young people.

For example, we learned that the adults to whom young people turn for advice are too often uncomfortable discussing topics such as sex and family planning, or fear that by talking about sex they appear to be condoning it. As a result, young people's views on contraceptives are often shaped by rumors and misinformation. Girls worry that using contraceptives or wearing condoms will make people think they are promiscuous.

Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of young women whose dreams - and even their lives - are cut short by unwanted pregnancies. But imagine what would be possible if we could give each of these young women the tools to determine their own future.