National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

UN: Access to family planning services varies globally

Women ages 11 to 49 in countries across the world have varying access to family planning services, according to a report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Irish Examiner reports.

Background

According to UNFPA, access to contraception is a key factor for girls to be able to make their own choices and make an economic contribution. The report focused on the UN's development goals through 2030.

According to the Examiner, 2030 development goals are being benchmarked on the health outcomes of 60 million girls in the world who are currently 10 years old. The report noted that there is a significant economic effect if girls stay in school, are protected from forced marriages and can exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health. Under such circumstances, a girl's earning potential almost doubles, according to UNFPA.

The report stated, "If the United Nations goals for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development are achieved in 15 years, every 10-year-old will have every opportunity to be healthy, protected and in school." In contrast, without proper support, many of the world's 10-year-old girls will have 10-year-old children of their own by 2030, according to the report.

Key findings

Globally, the report found that the countries with the greatest unmet need for family planning services included Samoa, where 44 percent of reproductive-age women have an unmet need for contraception; Ghana, where 34 percent of reproductive-age women have an unmet need for contraception; Uganda, where 33 percent of reproductive-age women have an unmet need for contraception; and Togo, where 33 percent of reproductive-age women have an unmet need for contraception.

In the European Union, the report found that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Spain have the greatest unmet need. They are followed by Ireland, where about 11 percent of women ages 15 to 49 who are in relationships lack adequate access to family planning services. Of those Irish residents using contraception, 80 percent are using modern forms of birth control.

Further, using Ireland as an example, the report highlighted the "demographic dividend" created by investing in childhood and early teenage years.

According to the report, Ireland experienced sharp declines in infant and child mortality in the 1960s and 1970s, but did not lower its high maternity rates until 1980, when modern contraception became accessible. The report stated, "The fertility rate decreased, falling by one-third in 10 years, initiating a surge in the working-age population relative to the population of dependent children. This translated into remarkable growth in per capita income" (O'Doherty, Irish Examiner, 10/20).