Woman of color doctor with patient. Photo by Francisco Venâncio on Unsplash.
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UNFPA: State of World Population 2022

Joseph J. Bish, MS Apr 01, 2022

On March 30, 2022, UNFPA released its annual State of The World Population report. You can access the full report here.

Population Media Center is pleased to see that our primary assertion (made constantly over our nearly 25-year history) has been highlighted by UNFPA in their 2022 report. To put our longstanding assertion into UNFPA’s own words: “shame, stigma, fear, poverty, gender inequality and many other factors undermine women and girls’ ability to exercise choice.”

This is important, because a persistent current of commentary from some family planning advocates and other development experts – and the popular media discourses following their lead – attribute unmet need (millions of women wanting to avoid pregnancy but not using modern contraception) to a “lack of access” to contraception.

Yet Population Media Center’s analyses of multiple DHS reports over the last two decades has consistently described a different reality: women with unmet need for contraception rarely cite cost, inconvenience or a “lack of access” as the reason they are not using contraception. Rather, the major impediments to contraceptive uptake are rooted in a trifecta of apprehension, fear-inducing rumors, or antagonism towards contraception grounded in either religiosity, fatalism or patriarchal social norms.

You can find out more by accessing our Unmet Need whitepaper.

As reported by The Guardian, UNFPA’s executive director, Natalia Kanem, said the number of unintended pregnancies was staggering. She went on to note:

“For the women affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice – whether or not to become pregnant – is no choice at all. By putting the power to make this most fundamental decision squarely in the hands of women and girls, societies can ensure that motherhood is an aspiration and not an inevitability.”

PMC contributes to this goal by destigmatizing voluntary family planning, correcting misinformation about the safety and efficacy of modern contraception, dismantling patriarchal opposition to contraception, and educating parents about the many health and economic benefits of smaller families.