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Meeting global demand for contraception is possible: new report shows first ever decrease in unmet need

Thursday 29 June 2017 Will Harris Contraception, Press release

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Marie Stopes International has welcomed the publication of a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, reporting that the number of women worldwide with an unmet need for contraception has fallen from 225 million to 214 million since 2014. This is the first decrease in unmet need since records began.

The report, Adding It Up: Investing in Contraception and Maternal Health, has been released ahead of the upcoming Family Planning Summit in London (Tuesday 11th July). It highlights the strong progress being made by governments, private foundations, civil society organisations and others as they work to make modern contraception available to increasing numbers of women in developing countries, despite rapid population growth.

Marjorie Newman Williams, Vice President and Director of International Operations at Marie Stopes International, said:

"Unmet need for contraception worldwide has been rising steadily for many years. As populations have increased, so have the number of women who want to avoid pregnancy but are unable to access modern contraception, and family planning providers have struggled to keep pace with growing demand. Finally we seem to be turning the corner.

"This report shows that progress towards closing the gap in access to modern contraception is possible, but there are still 214 million women and girls around the world, most of them in poor and vulnerable communities, who currently have no reliable way of preventing an unplanned pregnancy that could make them poorer, push their dreams beyond their reach forever, or threaten their health and life.

"Contraception is cheap, incredibly effective and unlike many of the toughest global issues, is easily delivered. Yet family planning attracts only a fraction of development spending. If the world is committed to ending poverty and building secure and prosperous societies that benefit everyone, getting family planning to everyone who wants it is one of the best value-for-money investments in human and economic development."

Also included in the report:

  • Around 84% of all unintended pregnancies in developing countries occur because women want to use contraception but have no way of accessing it.
  • Meeting all unmet need in developing countries would reduce unintended pregnancies by three-quarters (89 million to 22 million per year), and reduce abortions by three-quarters (48 million to 13 million per year).
  • The estimated cost of meeting unmet need in developing regions is $5.5 billion annually, the equivalent of less than $1 per person per year.

Women who have contraception are able to choose the size of their family, meaning they are better equipped to live within their means and less likely to fall into poverty. Their children tend to be healthier and have more opportunities, creating a cycle of aspiration that can benefit future generations.

Expanding access to contraception has been identified as one of the most productive investments in international development. Economists estimate that every $1 invested in universal access to contraception saves countries $120 in reduced need for infrastructure and social spending.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

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About Marie Stopes International

Marie Stopes International is a global organisation providing personalised contraception and safe abortion services to women and girls. Our local teams of professionals are passionate about the work they do in communities across 37 countries. The high quality services they provide give a woman the power to choose if and when she has children so that she’s free to pursue her plans and dreams for herself and her family.

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By 2030, no abortion will be unsafe and everyone who wants access to contraception will have it.