At yesterday’s landmark Family Planning Summit, hosted by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UNFPA, global leaders from national governments, donor organizations, civil society, the private sector, and the research and development community committed to increasing contraceptive access for 120 million women and girls by 2020. The commitments made at this unprecedented event also included sustaining access for the approximately 260 million women who currently use contraceptives and aim to deliver contraceptives, information, and services to a total of 380 million women and girls by 2020. The government of Malawi committed to increasing the rate of contraceptive use by 60% by 2020, with specific focus on young women ages 15-24. Malawi also committed to raising the legal age of marriage to 18 and improving youth sexual reproductive health programs.
These global commitments are crucial to addressing the critical need for contraception among adolescents globally. In developing countries, approximately one-third of adolescent girls give birth before they turn 20. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of pregnancies worldwide are unintended and a disproportionate amount of unintended pregnancies occur among young, unmarried girls who often lack access to contraception. Approximately 85 to 95 percent of sexually active young women who do not use contraceptives become pregnant within one year of initiating intercourse. The unmet need for contraception among adolescents is as high as 68% in some regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, South-central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Fulfilling the unmet need for family planning among adolescents could prevent an estimated 7.4 million unintended pregnancies. Preventing unintended pregnancies among adolescents would reduce the number of maternal deaths as well as improve educational and employment opportunities for young women. Thus, the commitments made yesterday have the promise to vastly improve the health and lives of millions of young people globally.
To learn more about the family planning commitments made at yesterday’s summit, read the DFID and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation press release.