Ten years on from the first ever World Contraception Day, millions of girls are still being robbed of their life chances by being denied contraception.
This year for the first time since records began, the number of women with an unmet need for contraception fell from 225 million to 214 million. But for younger women and girls, progress is painfully slow.
Up to 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 are still giving birth every year[i]. For these young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, pregnancy can be a death sentence, putting their lives and those of their babies at risk. For the lucky ones that survive, the future can be bleak, with little hope of completing their education, starting a career or becoming financially independent.
Adolescence is a formative period in a girl’s life – a crucial window of opportunity to set her on a path to a healthy future, but all too often we’re still letting them down.
Aminata Kabba from Bo District in Sierra Leone was just like every other 15-year-old. With dreams of becoming a nurse she spent her days going to school and hanging out with her friends. But all that changed when she fell pregnant. You can read her story here.
When women and girls have access to contraception, everybody wins: fewer girls drop out of school, fewer mothers die giving birth and more young women enter the workforce. Multiply that by millions, and it becomes clear why contraception is one of the smartest investments countries can make.
Ensuring young people have the information they need about sex is a real challenge, particularly in societies where unmarried teenagers are excluded from receiving information and sexual health services, but the need has never been more urgent. As 1.8 billion teens - the largest generation of young people in history - enter their reproductive years[ii]; more than 60 per cent of adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, South Central and West Asia who want to avoid pregnancy are not using a method of contraception.
These young women can deliver more than just babies; they can be a force in shaping their society. Increasing young women’s access to contraception is one of the simplest and most affordable ways to transform their lives and helping them and our country to thrive.
In celebration of World Contraception Day, we are co-hosting a TweetChat with partners on Tuesday, 26th September at 2:30pm BST. If you are on twitter, follow #WCDChat to join the conversation.
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