ActionAid launches new report - Sex, Choice and Control: the reality of family planning for women and girls today

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Women’s ability to control when and whether they have children is fundamental to the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.

This is the finding of our new report 'Sex, choice and control: the reality of family planning for women and children today'

Over 200 million women and girls in developing countries still cannot access effective methods of contraception, leading to over 75 million unintended pregnancies every year.

The UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with UNFPA, national governments and others, are launching a ground-breaking effort to address this. 

The aim is to make affordable, lifesaving contraceptive information, services and supplies available to an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020. It also aims to prevent over 200,000 dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

This effort will launch on the 11 July at the London Family Planning Summit. ActionAid fully supports the Summit, recognising that it’s a timely and positive step.

However, participants must recognise that improving access to contraceptives is just one of many issues.

We know that many women and girls are prevented from using contraceptives because of social barriers caused by gender inequality. Many women and girls’ sexual experiences are forced. Often husbands make decisions about family size, and compel their wives to have unsafe sex.

ActionAid's report presents the stories of four women from across sub-Saharan Africa, and shows how important it is to take these complexities into account.

Contraception should be a woman’s choice, but it is not solely her responsibility.Men and women, families and communities, donors and governments need to take measures to ensure all women are able to take control of their lives.