We for years have advocated increased investment in contraception because we believe it has far-reaching social and economic benefits. Marie Stopes International has released a report entitled Time to Invest: The Case for Contraception as an Investment for the Future that confirms this belief.
The report indicates that in a hypothetical African country that has a population of approximately 2.2 million, a 5 per cent increase in the number of women who have access to contraception would yield:
- an increase in gross domestic product per capita of 35 per cent;
- a 3.4 per cent increase in the primary school completion rate of girls;
- a significant improvement in the country’s Gender Equity Index score;
- a 3 per cent decrease in foreign aid as a percentage of government revenue; and
- a four-point decrease in the country’s Fragile States Index score.
According to the report, in larger countries, the benefits of increased access to contraception proportionally would be even greater.
Providing increased access is inexpensive — in poorer countries, the cost of providing contraception to an additional 1 per cent of women is only US $16.05 (£10.20) per woman.
Investing in contraception is one of the most efficient ways of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals recently adopted by the United Nations to guide development for the next 15 years. In fact, the Goals can’t be achieved if access to contraception is not significantly increased throughout the world because continued population growth would further strain natural resources, hinder poverty-reduction efforts, result in additional environmental degration and have many other deleterious effects.
“Contraception can change economies, societies and lives, as well as future sustainability,” said Simon Ross, the chief executive of Population Matters. “It isn’t a luxury. It is essential to a better future.”