Real change, lasting solutions empowering women involve engaging men ..

Empowering women through access to family planning means that mothers and infants are healthier, families are more financially stable, and communities are stronger. Although family planning has traditionally been a gender-based issue, it’s not too hard to realize why improving access to women’s health care, especially reproductive health care, is in everyone’s interest. That is why UNFPA has become a strong proponent of engaging males in the family planning process.

“Real change and lasting solutions for empowering women and girls can be considerably enhanced by actively involving men and boys,” noted Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, after two of its programs were recognized as effective mechanisms for enabling women’s empowerment.

Central to empowering women, and helping their families more generally, is access to family planning services. Services giving women the ability to decide when and whether to have children allow individuals and couples to avoid unintended pregnancies and are key to reducing maternal mortality around the world.

Last month, UNFPA—the chief United Nations agency that expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives—partnered with the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to host a groundbreaking summit that placed renewed global emphasis on international family planning. The London Summit on Family Planning resulted in financial commitments totaling $4.6 billion that will help millions of women in the world’s poorest countries gain access to family planning services by 2020. The funding cannot come fast enough.

A recent study by UNFPA and the Guttmacher Institute found that 222 million women who are sexually active have no access to family planning services. Such a staggering statistic means these women are consequently limited in their ability to plan pregnancies, which can have devastating consequences.

According to UNFPA, in 2012 alone, more than 160,000 women are expected to die in Sub-Saharan Africa from pregnancy-related causes—62,000 of those pregnancies are unintended. Conversely, recent newsfrom sub-Saharan Africa has shown that as contraceptive prevalence increases, maternal mortality declines.

Read the full story by Roger Nokes in the Interdependent

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