May 9th, 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the approval of the birth control pill in the US, coincidentally also Mother’s Day. Women Deliver will celebrate this golden anniversary by holding an all-day symposium on reproductive health technology, “50 Years after the Pill — The Revolution Continues,” during the Women Deliver conference, June 7-9 in Washington, DC. The symposium will be opened by psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, Dr. Nafis Sadik. It will feature experts in the field of reproductive health discussing the social, economic, and health benefits of modern contraceptives, in addition to where availability has fallen short for women in much of the developing world.
Access to contraceptives is a critical step to reducing unintended pregnancies, and maternal death and disability worldwide. While in the fifty years since the pill was approved more than 200 million women have used it, still more than 200 million women worldwide need or want access to contraceptives, but do not have it. Recent studies have shown that if this unmet need for contraceptives was addressed, more than 50 million unintended pregnancies a year could be averted, amounting to 150,000 women’s and 640,000 newborn lives saved. Ensuring access to family planning for women and their families has myriad social, health, and economic benefits. For instance, a US$1 investment in family planning services has a US$1.40 return in medical cost savings.
“When a woman is able to manage her fertility, she is better able to manage her life and to realize her full potential as a human being,” said Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver. “This has tremendous positive implications for her family, her community, and her country, and is a solid cost-effective solution to maternal deaths worldwide. The advent of the birth control pill in the US sparked a revolution. We must support the continuation of the revolution for women worldwide, by ensuring affordable access to contraceptives for all individuals.”
During Women Deliver’s one-day technology symposium attendees will journey from 1960 to 2010 and beyond, exploring the biomedical, public health and social and cultural dimensions of modern contraception. The symposium will look ahead to the future of reproductive health technology more broadly, including the use of microbicides as a method of women-initiated HIV prevention, new methods of cervical cancer screening, the use of mobile phones, and low-technology ways to prevent post-childbirth bleeding.
Journalists can register to attend the Women Deliver conference at http://www.womendeliver.org/conferences/-2010-conference/media-center/media-registration/