Today is World Contraception Day. Launched in 2007 and supported by a broad coalition of nongovernmental organisations, governments and medical societies, the Day is intended to help create a world in which every pregnancy is wanted.
World Contraception Day this year is taking place on the same weekend as the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York. At the conclusion of the historic summit on Sunday, world leaders will adopt an ambitious plan to help create a better world based on 17 goals that will guide international development for the next 15 years. Unfortunately, the goals are undermined by a failure to recognise the consequences of high fertility rates and unsustainable population growth.
The Overseas Development Institute expects the numbers of people living in extreme poverty in Africa south of the Sahara Desert to increase by approximately 50 million by 2030 due to population growth, which also strains natural resources, is a major contributor to environmental degradation and causes many other problems.
The United Nations predicts that global population will increase by about one billion by 2030. Such an increase would make the goals very difficult if not impossible to achieve.
Access to contraception can help to lower fertility rates and limit population growth — and as a result have significant economic benefits. The Copenhagen Consensus Centre estimates that governments can expect a US $120 economic return for every $1 spent on contraception and other family planning services.
We believe that everyone should have the autonomy to choose when — and whether — they have children. This is particularly important for women because being unable to do so means risking death caused by pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications and spending life rearing unintended children. This limits women’s ability to work outside of the home, pursue education and participate in public life. Yet hundreds of millions of women worldwide still either lack access to effective contraception or are uninformed about their options.
There are many ways in which individuals can help to bring about universal access to contraception. We urge everyone to do so.