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unwanted pregnancies & Overpopulation

Cody Peluso Nov 10, 2022

Every woman, and person with a uterus, is at risk of unintended pregnancy.

Everyone should have  the right to bodily autonomy, and perhaps nothing is more fundamental to the exercise of that right than the ability to choose whether, when and with whom to become pregnant

According to the UNFPA “Contraception is the most obvious way to prevent an unintended pregnancy. And while all methods can fail or be used incorrectly, the biggest issue by far is people not being able to get the contraception that they need, when they need it.” Most of the time this is not because of a lack of services or resources available to women. Most of the time this is because, in some shape or form, they are restricted from accessing these vital health care services and resources. Women are restricted by law. Women are restricted by religion. Women are restricted by the men who exert control over their lives.  Fifty percent of pregnancies around the world are unplanned and 25% are unwanted. This is driven by misinformation, lack of autonomy, and poverty. Again, steeped in inequity, this is neither healthy nor sustainable. But it is solvable.

“Around two-thirds of sexually active women surveyed in a new UN study indicated that although they wished to avoid or postpone having children, they had stopped relying on contraception out of concern for how it was affecting their health.” It is estimated that between 3,200 to 50,000 rape related pregnancies occur every year, in The United States alone. With each state adapting different abortion laws, The Washington Post shares that nearly one in three women ages 15 to 44 live in states where abortion is banned or mostly banned. As of 2019, adolescents aged 15–19 years in low- and middle-income countries had an estimated 21 million pregnancies each year, of which approximately 50% were unintended and which resulted in an estimated 12 million births.  While we might assume unintended pregnancies are more prevalent in the global South, according to The Guttmacher Institute:

Yes, unintended pregnancies is a global problem. Yes, we still have much work to do in the “most developed countries” in the world, as we do many other places.

Address Knowledge Gaps and Cultural Opposition, Increase Contraceptive Use

Know The Barriers To Contraception

Misinformation

Misinformation about women’s health, family planning and sexual and reproductive health drives policies, behaviors, and direct actions of men and women. Whether it be misinformation about the effects of medical procedures, the legality of  abortion pills, or misinformation regarding access to healthcare services, educating and empowering women with factual information is necessary.

Acting together with DKT and MSI Nigeria, PMC’s Jolokoto (“The Mirror of Life”) corrected misinformation and motivated listeners to use already-existing resources like informational call lines and reproductive heath clinics.

Jolokoto was responsible for 71% of calls to the MSI reproductive health call center in Oyo State from August 2019-August 2020

• 41% of new clinic patients in Ogun State referenced Jolokoto as their motivation for services.

Lack of Autonomy

This should come as no surprise to anyone reading this, but unfortunately women lack power over their own bodies.  There are laws, religious edicts, and controlling behaviors which all must be addressed and changed for women to have real power and agency in their lives. A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report has suggested that roughly half of all women are denied bodily autonomy. In the 57 countries surveyed, the proportion of women aged between 15 and 49 able to make autonomous decisions when it comes to sex with partners or husbands, contraception, and seeking health care ranged from 87% to as low as 7%.

Like in many countries, myths and misconceptions often lead to spousal opposition to contractive use. By engaging in entertainment programs together that encourage voluntary family planning, couples can often overcome inter-marriage opposition to contraceptives, giving women the power to determine when and if they choose to have children.

Listening to the show together made it easier to have a conversation about spacing children using more modern forms of family planning. Because of the happenings in Kwishilya, there were no misunderstandings. We both had all the information

Kwishilya listener in Zambia.

poverty

Chart showing poverty before and after covid globally

According to a survey from 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis will increase female poverty worldwide. Globally, 247 million women aged 15 years and older will be living on less than 1.90 U.S. dollars per day in 2021, compared to 236 million men. The gender poverty gap is expected to increase by 2030 as women will still be the majority of the world’s extreme poor. A University of Michigan study has shown that  poor women of all races have fewer but longer relationships, use contraceptives less frequently and use less effective methods than women from more advantaged backgrounds.” By 2030, as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, global leaders aim to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere. The numbers show we have a lot of work to do. The sheer number of women and girls, boys and men, people everywhere, who live in a cycle of poverty has increased. The numbers also show poverty drastically increases the chances of an unwanted or unintended pregnancy.

Across the world, in over 50 countries, PMC has created radio dramas and popularly broadcast TV shows to help break the cycle of violence, poverty, patriarchy and unwanted pregnancies. We have more work to do, and we can’t do it without you. As the global population reaches 8 billion people, what kind of story do you want to write?

How do we cut through the noise and push back against misinformation, address lack of bodily autonomy and end the vicious cycle of poverty for women and girls? With entertainment-education. With transformative stories. By changing the hearts and minds of people across the world, one community at a time.