Marie Stopes International Australia

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Greater access to contraception

Women at MSI clinic, Myanmar

Today marks World Population Day; the annual event organised by the UN seeks to raise awareness about population issues.

This year’s theme is about investing in young people, and with tens of thousands of young women and girls dying needlessly from unsafe abortions every single year, we are highlighting the need to increase access to reproductive health services.

Here are the facts.

Each year there are nearly 22 million unsafe abortions around the world and 47,000 women die from complications. For young women the risks are even higher. Not only are pregnant adolescents more likely than adults to have unsafe abortions but they are more seriously affected by complications. In fact, complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19 years in low and middle income countries.

One of the simplest and most effective means of saving these women and girls’ lives is contraception, but for more than 220 million women today that is not an option, because even though they want to protect themselves they are unable to access it.

Meet Filomena, from Letefoho in Timor-Leste (picture below). Filomena is 35 years old and has eight children aged between three months and 17 years. She and three other women from her village made the journey through steep, mountainous terrain and pouring rain to a government-run health centre where a Marie Stopes midwife provides family planning services each week.

Filomena’s decision to make the journey to the health centre was not a hard one. She delivered all her babies in complete isolation in the family’s small hut. Now that her eldest daughter has left for the city, there is little help in raising her youngest.

After discussing the options with their husbands, the women all agreed that they wanted a long-acting reversible option of contraception that will give them a break from the demands of pregnancy and childbirth. For Filomena, a contraceptive implant means five years of freedom from an unwanted pregnancy. And after more than 17 years of being pregnant, birthing and breastfeeding this freedom is something for Filomena to celebrate.

Providing access to reproductive healthcare is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to save a women’s life. And being able to make an informed choice and take control of your own reproductive health is a basic human right. If everyone who wanted to use contraception was able to, 79 000 women’s lives and 1.1 million infant’s lives could be saved in the developing world alone.

Join the campaign ‘Make Women Matter’ by signing the petition to ensure that girls and young women have a brighter, more secure future.

Donate online  or call 1300 478 486

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