The Problem

  • 214 Million Women
    214 million girls and women want to avoid or delay pregnancy, but face barriers or lack access to effective contraceptives. This means more unintended pregnancies and more abortions, many of which are unsafe. Women with an unmet need for modern contraception account for 84% of all unintended pregnancies in developing regions.
  • Unplanned Pregnancy
    An estimated 22 million unsafe abortions are performed each year, mostly in developing countries. Each year, approximately 47,000 women die due to unsafe abortion and around 6.9 million women in developing regions seek medical care for complications from unsafe abortion.
  • 800 Girls & Women Die Every Day
    Around the world, 300,000 girls and women die every year – that’s 800 every day – from pregnancy-related causes. Most of these complications are preventable or treatable. Of the estimated 206 million pregnancies in 2017 in developing regions, 43% are unintended.
  • 1/3 of Girls are married before 18 years old
    One-third of girls in the developing world are married before 18, and one-fifth become pregnant before 18. Every year, more than 15 million girls under age 19 give birth. That means every day, 41,000 girls become mothers.
  • Economic and Health Risks
    When girls give birth before their bodies are ready, not only are they more likely to drop out of school and earn a lower income, but they are at a much higher risk of dying. Unplanned pregnancy can increase their risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications and seeing their children die as well, often from malnutrition.
  • A Leading Cause of Death
    Complications from pregnancy and childbirth continue to be a leading cause of death of girls in the developing world and AIDS is the leading killer of girls aged 15 – 19 in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, an estimated 308,000 women in developing countries will die from pregnancy-related causes, and 2.7 million babies will die in the first month of life.

The Solution

  • Reproductive Health Services Save Lives
    Fulfilling the unmet need for family planning and providing quality maternal and newborn care would reduce maternal deaths by 73% and newborn deaths by 80%.
  • Family planning improves education and economic empowerment
    Girls and women who can plan their families are better able to pursue their education and become economically empowered, lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Each additional year of education improves a girl’s employment prospects, increasing her future income potential by 10–20%.
  • Family planning is cost-effective
    Family planning is also a great investment. Every $1 invested in family planning saves between $4 and $31 across other sectors, including education, food, health, housing and sanitation.
  • Family planning improves environmental sustainability
    Empowering women to have the number of children they desire can improve environmental sustainability by allowing women to better manage natural resources such as firewood, water, and homegrown food for their families.
  • Slow or reverse CO2 Emissions by 2050
    Lowering the rate of unintended pregnancy through access to voluntary family planning leads to slower population growth, which could provide 16–29% of the emissions reductions suggested as necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate disruptions.
  • $7.8 Billion
    If all women wanting to avoid a pregnancy used modern contraception, the resulting decline in unintended pregnancies would greatly reduce the cost of providing the recommended standard of care by $7.8 billion to $2.7 billion.
  • Women play a key role in global security
    When healthy, empowered women have a voice at the table in decisions about war and peace, peace agreements are 20% more likely to last at least two years and 35% more likely to last 15 years.
  • Elevating the international economy
    If women participated in the economy at the same level as men, $28 trillion — or 26% — could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025. That’s the annual GDP of the U.S. and China combined. No country in the last 50 years has emerged from poverty without expanding access to contraceptives.
  • Education empowers women to make decisions
    62% of comprehensive sexuality education programs had a positive effect on at least one behavioral or biological outcome, such as increased condom use or reduced unplanned pregnancies.
The Universal Access Project works to implement the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, which has served as a comprehensive guide to people-centered development progress for more than 20 years. The Universal Access Project is guided by the definitions set by the ICPD Programme of Action.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and its functions and processes. [i]

Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.[ii]

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.[iii]

[i] International Conference on Population and Development, Summary of the Programme of Action, paragraph 7.1 , (New York: United Nations Department of Public Information, March 1995) 

[ii] Ibid, paragraph 7.2: based upon rights recognized in international human rights treaties, declarations and other instruments.

[iii] Ibid.