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New data reveals the 1.6 billion reasons contraception matters

Monday 10 July 2017 Marie Stopes International Contraception, Press release, Policy and advocacy

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As policymakers, donors, and advocates gather for the Family Planning Summit in London, new data released by Marie Stopes International reveals the 1.6 billion reasons why we need to act now to ensure modern contraception and family planning services are an option for every woman.

If each of the 69 FP2020 focus countries[i] provided contraception to every woman who wants it by 2030, as agreed under the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs)[ii], family planning would prevent:

  • 1.6 billion unintended pregnancies
  • Over 500 million unsafe abortions
  • 1.5 million maternal deaths[iii]

Marjorie Newman-Williams, vice-president and director of international operations at Marie Stopes International said: 

"These figures show the incredible effect that contraception can have: one and a half million lives saved and hundreds of millions of lives transformed. This is why family planning matters and this Summit is so vitally important.

"The goal of getting contraception to every woman who wants it is ambitious, but it is both possible and good value for money. Without access to contraception, women are likely to have more children than they want or can care for. Frequent births in quick succession imperils a woman’s health, stresses her family’s wellbeing and future prospects, and overwhelms countries’ social and economic resources.

"In the UK, it is easy to take contraception for granted, but for women in developing countries it can mean the difference between gaining qualifications or being kicked out of school, between dividing your evening meal between four people or twelve, or even the difference between life and death."

Over the last five years, the world has made impressive progress in expanding access to modern contraception. Despite population increases, for the first time in history, unmet need for contraception has fallen, with a record 300 million women and girls across 69 of the world’s poorest countries now using modern contraceptives[iv]. But huge numbers of women are still missing out, particularly the young, people in humanitarian crises and women in the most remote places on earth.

Why now?

This Family Planning Summit is a response to an urgent global need. Today, more than 60% of sexually active adolescents in developing regions who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraception[v]. With 1.2 billion[vi] adolescents - one of the largest generations in history - entering their reproductive years, our actions today could mean the difference between poverty and prosperity for entire nations.

Newman-Williams added: 

"This is a critical moment with many countries facing a demographic tipping point that could hamper their development for years to come. Marie Stopes International provides contraception and safe abortion services to more than 28,000 women worldwide every day and we see with our own eyes the transformational effect these services have, not just on women’s lives, but on their wider families and communities and national stability and security.

"By prioritising contraception and safe abortion, countries can harness the largest working-age population of their history, fast-tracking their economic and social development and building their nations into better trading, investment and development partners."

A smart investment

The case for investment is even more compelling when you realise how cost-effective family planning is and the huge savings it can bring. Expanding and improving services to meet all women’s needs for modern contraception in developing regions would cost $11 billion per year, or $1.75 per person per year[vii], with every additional dollar invested saving countries up to $120[viii]

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

For interviews and further information please contact:

Email: press@mariestopes.org

Tel: 020 7034 2377 / 020 3219 8245 or 07769 166 516 (out of hours)

About Marie Stopes International 

Marie Stopes International is a global organisation providing personalised contraception and safe abortion services to women and girls. In 2016, around 25 million women and men worldwide were using a method of contraception provided by us. 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.

Marie Stopes International believes it is every woman’s right to choose whether and when to have children and every day we provide contraception and safe abortion services to more than 28,000 women worldwide. 

We know that giving women access to contraception and safe abortion services is one of the most important steps countries can take to fast-tracking their development.

About our FP2020 commitments

At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, Marie Stopes International committed to reach six million additional users of contraception by 2020 across the countries where we work. By the end of 2016, we had contributed 5.6 million additional users, almost half of our total pledge. 

Our progress against this pledge was so strong that, in 2015, we doubled our commitment to reaching 12 million additional users of contraception, compared with 2012, by the end of 2020. 

[i] Family Planning 2020 aims to expand access to family planning information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 of the world’s poorest countries by 2020. http://www.familyplanning2020.org/entities

[ii] http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health

[iii] These figures are calculated based on a projection using Marie Stopes International’s peer-reviewed Impact 2 Model in which by 2030 CPR has increased in line with 2016 rates of unmet need.  E.g. if unmet need in X country was 25% in 2016, we have modelled a 25% rise in CPR by 2030. We have assumed that 2016 unmet need rates in FP2020 countries, measured for married/in-union women of reproductive age (WRA) apply to all WRA. We recognise that rates of unmet need will vary between now and 2030, and that it is likely we have not accounted for all women that will have an unmet need in 2030. If we were able to predict what unmet need for contraception would be in 2030, it’s likely that the cumulative impact figures would be significantly higher.

  • 1.6 billion fewer  unintended pregnancies (1,652,868,735)
  • 508 Over 500 million fewer unsafe abortions  (508,040,974)
  • 1.5 million fewer maternal deaths (1,503,346)

[iv] Family Planning 2020. "FP2020 Momentum at the Midpoint 2015-2016." 2016. http://progress.familyplanning2020.org/page/introduction/executive-summary-1

[v] Guttmacher Institute. "Facts on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Of Adolescent Women in the Developing World." April 2010. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/FB-Adolescents-SRH.pdf

[vi] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. "World Population Prospects, 2017." https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/DataQuery

[vii] https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/adding-it-up-contraception-mnh-2017

[viii] http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus/health-women-children 

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