So it’s that time. That moment of your teenage life when your parents or guardians sit down with you to talk about ‘using protection’ when ‘it’ happens. ‘Yes, of course’, you’ll say, knowing that they are too young to become grandparents just yet.
Although a lot of teenagers might feel embarrassed to talk about it with their parents, it is a BIG deal.
The 26th of September marks World Contraception Day, a day aimed to improve awareness of contraception and to promote access to contraception methods, especially among the world’s youth. Whether it is the pill, IUS (intrauterine system), condoms, contraceptive implants… There are a plethora of contraceptives on the market.
So, surely everyone is staying safe and preventing unwanted pregnancies? Not quite. Only 63.6% of the world use contraception and only 39.5% in Least Developed Countries do so. We have nevertheless come a long way since historic contraceptive superstitions such as drinking a cocktail of lead and mercury in ancient China. Still, the lack of contraception means that currently 225 million women who would like to delay or stop getting children are not doing so. If sufficient contraception options would be available to all women in the world, 53 million unplanned pregnancies could be prevented every year.
How can we solve this? Well, one way would simply be to improve knowledge of and access to condoms. However, the decision whether or not to use a condom is often taken by the male sexual partner; in many cultures women have less influence over condom use than men. That’s why condom promotion needs to be coupled to other types of interventions that address issues such as gender inequality.
That’s why the 26th of September is not just a day to recognise the lack of choice and access to contraceptives that many women across the world face, but also to draw attention to the cultural barriers, including gender inequality, that worsen this problem.
So, next time someone brings up the topic of contraception, don’t feel embarrassed, but talk about it openly and honestly. Make sure you know the options that are out there and discuss them, whether it’s with your parents, doctor or friends. That alone is enough to bring about change.