On 8 May, IPPF launched its global I Decide 2017 campaign calling for universal and equitable access to contraception. Our Federation united to illustrate that family planning programs cannot leave any woman, man or young person behind. The world’s poorest women have the highest unmet need for contraception, pointing to policy environments that are hostile to women, regulations against accessing contraception, supply chain bottlenecks, financial burdens in paying for healthcare, social stigma, barriers to mobility and independence, and more, all of which deny women the choice and autonomy to decide.
In Europe and Central Asia, IPPF members are fighting for contraceptive care to be redefined as a policy priority. There can be no equality for women without the choice to plan whether and when to have children. Accessible contraceptive services and information are absolutely central to a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her sexual and reproductive life. Yet across our region, this choice is out of reach for far too many people, and it is always the poorest and most marginalised who bear the brunt of inadequate sexual and reproductive health policies.
In many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, women’s use of modern contraceptive methods is lower than in the least developed countries in the world. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, only 16.6% of women use them, mainly because of fears and misperceptions that they are harmful to women’s health. Health professionals and public health systems are often part of the problem because they fail to provide correct information and counselling.
In the relatively wealthy EU, women across 16 countries included in a study by IPPF EN are facing barriers in choosing the best method of contraception for them. In addition to limited awareness, education and counselling, affordability is a major obstacle, especially for young, poor and marginalised women and girls such as Roma, refugees and undocumented migrants. EU governments are doing too little to address these barriers.