When Maradi in Niger was hit by drought, many men left the region to find work – and women like Hinda Elhji Abdo were left alone with four children. “How do you manage on your own?” she asked.
For many of the women we serve, the climate crisis isn’t only something they read about in the news. It’s something they are faced with and experience every day.
When drought strikes, they are the ones who are forced to walk further to find water. When heat waves dry up their crops, they are the ones who need to figure out how they’ll feed their families. When natural disasters strike – as they do increasingly often – studies have shown that women are disproportionately affected, and have a harder time recovering from the destruction.
If we want to build communities that are more resilient to the climate emergency we’re facing, we need to empower women. Sexual and reproductive healthcare has a crucial role to play.
Reproductive choice is the foundation upon which equality is based. Without access to reproductive healthcare, women are less able to control if and when to have children. For some, an unintended pregnancy can result in them being forced to leave school early and unable to finish their education. That means too many women risk missing out on the knowledge and skills they need to respond and adapt to the climate crisis – and the chance to earn a higher and independent income to build their resilience.
With education comes the opportunity to diversify financial resources. Our clients have gone on to become, teachers, accountants, midwives, doctors, and more. With the ability to control if and when they become pregnant, they can earn additional income for their families, making them better able to recover from disasters.
Finally, with greater control over their bodies, women are more able to contribute to climate solutions in their communities. We saw this through our work in Madagascar, where we brought reproductive healthcare to villages in and around protected forests. Women who used family planning were more likely to be active in efforts to protect the forest. Project Drawdown, the world’s leading source of climate solutions, shows that women- and girl-centred approaches are among the 100 best solutions to reverse global warming.
Freed from the risk of unintended pregnancy, women can contribute to their community's resiliency, ability to adapt and to building a sustainable future.
At MSI, choice is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that every woman, no matter where she lives, should be free to make her own choices about her body and her future. We’re working towards a world where everyone who wants contraception can access it - where every woman can make the choice that is right for her.
Hinda, the mother of four from Niger who struggled when the rains didn’t come, has become a champion for reproductive healthcare in her community. She shares how contraception has helped her and her family: "I want to leave time between my births for my children to be healthy and blossom. I want a good future for my children."
With your support, we can help communities on the front lines of the climate crisis build resilience. In a changing world, helping women control their own bodies means giving them the chance at a more secure future.