Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What do Women Really Want? Full Access to Family Planning.

September 04, 2013

Today over seven billion people live on Earth, causing academics and inter-governmental agency officials to question the sustainability of the world’s rapid population growth. An ever-growing population rate influences every aspect of human, social and economic development. In order to tackle the problems caused by overpopulation, women, girls and communities must have access to and awareness of modern family planning methods.

 Family planning is key to slowing unsustainable population growth and the resulting negative impacts on the economy, environment, and national and regional development efforts.World Health Organization

An estimated 222 million women and girls in developing countries want contraceptives but lack access. A figure that enormous can easily be underestimated and hard to comprehend; to better illustrate the magnitude of this statistic:

  • If 222 million women and girls stood side by side, they would wrap around the Earth’s equator nearly two times.
  • 222 million people equates to more than the combined populations of Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai, Manila, Karachi, New York City, Sao Pãulo, Mexico City, Cairo and Rio de Janeiro.
  • 222 million women and girls, if stacked head to toe, would reach from Earth to the moon.*
  • 222 million seconds ago, the year was 2006.
  • 222 million ants, at an average of 3 milligrams each, would weigh as much as a baby grand piano.

According to the UNFPA, meeting the unmet need for modern family planning services could reduce unintended pregnancies by more than two-thirds and unsafe abortions by more than 70 percent.

Family Planning and Ethiopia

In 2003, the Ethiopian government pledged to improve women’s health and well-being by increasing access to family planning services – particularly in rural areas. By 2011, Ethiopia had become a modern day example of the wide-ranging health benefits that result from successful family planning techniques.

 The promotion of family planning – and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples – is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.World Health Organization

The following statistics compare the results from the 2000 Ethiopia Democratic and Health Survey (EDHS) to the 2011 EDHS:

  • Modern contraception usage increased by 350 percent.
  • Average births per woman decreased by 12.7 percent.
  • Under-five mortality decreased by 47 percent.
  • The literacy rate of women age 15 to 49 increased by 100 percent.
  • The number of children under age five who are stunted or underweight decreased by 24 percent and 29 percent respectively.

To honor Ethiopia’s success, Addis Ababa was selected as the site for the third International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). Co-hosted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, the November conference aims to further the conversation surrounding family planning and to identify strategic focal points in the family planning agenda.

By increasing access to and awareness of successful family planning methods, we will undeniably ensure a safer world for not only women and girls, but for everyone.

For more information from Girls’ Globe on family planning, please see the following:

What We Should Talk About When Talking About Family Planning
Women Deliver Site Visit: The National Family Planning Board
Female Condoms Are...

*This assumes an average height of 5 feet to account for young girls.

 
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