By: Janna Oberdorf, Director of Communications and Outreach at Women Deliver
Happy World Contraception Day! If you haven’t heard of World Contraception Day, welcome, get excited, and tune in. The theme this year is “Live your life, know your rights. Learn about contraception.” It’s a pretty simple slogan but it has a powerful implication.
Young people have the right to access accurate and unbiased information about contraception and safe sex, which they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and improve their lives in a number of ways. But they don’t often know that, or they can’t realize those rights. We are trying to change that.
This week here on the Women Deliver blog and on Conversations for a Better World, we’ll be sharing our perspective on the issue of young people’s access to contraception. And we need your thoughts and insights on everything from sex ed and STIs to condoms and pills to make real change in this field. A new report launched today, which surveyed young people’s attitudes toward sex and contraception in more than 25 countries, makes it startlingly clear that young people worldwide still lack the access they need and deserve to protect their reproductive health.
While young people are more active than ever in changing the dialogue around their reproductive health needs – from face-to-face clinics to virtual Facebook conversations – unintended pregnancy and STIs continue to plague youth around the globe, and misinformation is a major culprit. Today, 50% of new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur among youth, though they comprise just one-quarter of the world’s sexually active population. In France, as this new report shows, the number of young people having sex with new partners and using no contraception at all more than doubled in the last two years. In Egypt, 36% of young men and women reported that a bath or shower after sex would prevent pregnancy. And in Thailand, 28% reported that ‘period sex’ was an effective contraceptive.
When it comes to misinformation, the best solution is sex education. But, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that all young people, around the world, have equal access to comprehensive and accurate sex education. In Turkey, just over 20% of young people say they’ve received sex ed, as compared to a more robust 75% in the US.
Getting informed about your reproductive health and rights is one hurdle. Gaining access to contraceptive supplies or health services is another. Cultural taboos about adolescent and youth sexuality exist in pretty much every culture around the world. As a result, for instance, 42% of young people across Asia Pacific said they didn’t seek contraception because they were too embarrassed. This trend continues in the US, and across Europe and Latin America.
While this all seems like terrible news – and it is – we need to focus on changing this reality. The good news is that we can, and each of us has a part to play in that. At Women Deliver, we will continue to ensure that discussion of reproductive health and rights don’t just include ‘mothers’ or ‘girls,’ but young people from all backgrounds, worldwide. We are partnering with advocates, policymakers, and donors across sectors and time zones to make sure that youth needs and rights are a priority. But we also need your voice.
Now is the time to get engaged, get informed, and get involved. If you haven’t yet, we’d love to hear your own perspectives on these issues. Armed with the knowledge that access to quality health services and supplies, and accurate information is your right, young people around the world are beginning to mobilize and change is happening. Know this, spread the word, and advocate across the globe!
- Visit Conversations for a Better World.
- Email info(at)womendeliver.org if you'd like to contribute your own blog.