Today is World Contraception Day, a time when the international community comes together to recognize the barriers and cultural impediments that restrict access to family planning.
There are currently 225 million women in developing countries who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy, but lack access to modern contraceptive methods. When people can control how and when they get pregnant, it improves women’s educational and economic opportunities, as well as an entire community’s quality of life.
Last year the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the leader of the global contraception movement, provided contraceptives that averted an estimated 9 million unintended pregnancies and 26,000 maternal deaths. This year, despite an initiative to invest in teenage girls, funding to UNFPA is down $847 million from their goal to raise $1 billion by 2020.
In addition to the global funding shortage, child marriage remains one of the largest barriers to helping women and girls control their reproduction. One in three girls in the developing world will be married before the age of 18 and one in nine will be married before the age of 15. Most of these girls will become pregnant as adolescents.
Access to family planning is not a problem isolated to the developing world. 30 percent of teen girls in the United States will be pregnant at least once before their 20th birthday and 77 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. Meanwhile, Congress and state legislatures across the country are trying to slash funding to Title X family grant programs, creating what are called contraception deserts in some low-income communities.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is committed to advocating for increased funding for family planning both at home and abroad. In 2009, FMF supported the single largest federal budget increase for international family planning and reproductive health programs.