Pathfinder Applauds Latest UNFPA Report on Family Planning as Human Right

Cover of the State of the World Population Report 2012

Worldwide, nearly one in four women who need access to modern contraceptives, do not have that access. This is especially true in the developing world, where a shortage of adequate health services, stigma, gender inequality, and poverty pose additional barriers. But those 222 million women who lack access are 222 million too many. That is why Pathfinder International commends UNFPA’s newest annual report which calls upon the international community to build a world where families welcome children into their lives “by choice, not by chance.”

The State of the World Population 2012 report, released on November 14, emphasizes a bold principle that Pathfinder has incorporated in its works for decades—that family planning is an intrinsic human right. Increasing access to family planning services in the developing world not only empowers women and young girls to make healthy choices and better space their pregnancies, but also puts them in reach of other essential human rights such as the right to health care, education, and equality. As UNFPA’s report demonstrates, global investment in family planning means improvements in overall health, gender equality and labor force participation as well as short and long-term benefits for mother and child. Family planning also cuts down on unintended pregnancies, and in turn, unsafe abortion rates—a key target of Pathfinder's work in the developing world.

“The report emphasizes the need to diversify and expand family planning services to better serve an unmet need in a growing young population,” said Pathfinder’s Senior Technical Advisor for Contraception, Candace Lew. “Here at Pathfinder, we recognize the unique needs of young people. We’ve helped provide sexual and reproductive health services to this specific community for more than 50 years in more than 100 countries around the world.”

UNFPA also rightly identifies men and boys, unmarried individuals, the elderly, and the disabled as key populations whose needs must be better met to ensure family planning efforts are comprehensive and universal. It is absolutely vital that these groups are taken into consideration as a part of all future development efforts.

Pathfinder applauds UNFPA’s push for family planning to be integrated across all current and future development initiatives with an emphasis on key cross-cutting principles that mirror our own: participation by all stakeholders, equality and non-discrimination, and accountability. At Pathfinder, we believe access to family planning services is a basic right—not a privilege—and we’re thrilled to see UNFPA taking a stand.

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