Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

World Contraception Day: Giving Young People a Voice

September 12, 2012

This blog is part of a series, edited by Women Deliver, in partnership with Impatient Optimists, on youth perspectives to celebrate World Contraception Day. Share your thoughts in comments and join the conversation at #WCD2012. For more stories and to get involved further visit No Controversy.

Happy World Contraception Day! For those of you who aren’t familiar, every year on September 26th we celebrate World Contraception Day (WCD), a global campaign with a vision for a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Its focus – which is so very needed – is on young people and increasing awareness and education among this particularly vulnerable group.

Young people have the right to access accurate and unbiased information about contraception and safe sex, which they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), and improve their lives in a number of ways. But they don’t often know that, or they can’t realize those rights. We are trying to change that.

For World Contraception Day 2012, Women Deliver and Impatient Optimists will co-host a blog series based on this year’s theme: “ Your Future. Your Choice. Your Contraception.” We are reaching out to young advocates around the world to participate as authors in this blog series that will run from 12 September until World Contraception Day. We’re using our platforms to give young people a voice on this important issue.

It is estimated that there are nearly 3 billion people today under the age of 25, the majority of them living in the developing world. Providing them with support and education is critical. If we do it right, we can ensure that young people grow up in a world where it is clearly understood that the ability to plan one’s own fertility is a human right and an economic necessity for families, communities and nations to fight poverty.

Currently, complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth remain a leading cause of death among young women aged 15 to 19. Many girls of this age are often not prepared—physically, emotionally or financially—to deliver children, and are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth as those older than 20 years of age. Yet when they seek care, many girls encounter difficulties—in India, for example, only 15% of young women are able to visit a health clinic without spousal accompaniment.  Those who can access care often face stigma and financial barriers.

The London Family Planning Summit demonstrated a shift in political will to address the global unmet need for contraception, putting family planning squarely on the agenda. The remarkable funds committed to family planning on July 11th need to be made available, rapidly, especially as MDG 5 (to improve maternal health) continues to be the most off-track and the least funded of all the Millennium Development Goals. Girls and women have suffered immensely because of this neglect. If young people, especially young women, can’t plan their fertility, they can’t plan their lives.

At Women Deliver’s 3rd Global Conference, we will continue to ensure that discussion of reproductive health and rights don’t just include ‘mothers’ or ‘girls,’ but young people from all backgrounds, worldwide. We are partnering with advocates, policymakers, and donors across sectors and time zones to make sure that young people’s needs and rights are a priority. But we also need your voice.

Now is the time to get engaged, get informed, and get involved. If you haven’t yet, we’d love to hear your own perspectives on these issues in the comments section of the blogs. Access to quality health services and supplies and accurate information is a basic right, and young people around the world are beginning to mobilize.  Change IS happening. Know this, spread the word, and advocate across the globe!

 
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