A new study by the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), titled, Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services–Estimates for 2012, reports that the number of women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception declined only slightly between 2008 and 2012, from 226 to 222 million. However, in the 69 poorest countries—where 73% of all women with unmet need for modern contraceptives reside—the number actually increased, from 153 to 162 million women.
Women who have an unmet need for contraception are broadly defined as those who want to delay or stop childbearing but are unable to use contraception. This concept of unmet need has influenced the development of family planning programmes for decades, and several years ago, unmet need was added as an indicator to Millennium Development Goal 5, on improving maternal health.
While advocates need to continue their efforts to make universal access to family planning a reality, the human rights perspective should be kept in mind and they should remain watchful for coercive family planning practices and policies and its impact on women’s lives. States must also ensure provision of affordable contraceptive and family planning services as well as other sexual and reproductive health information and services. While providing these services, states must also put mechanisms in place to ensure fully informed decision-making. It must also ensure that service providers respect dignity, autonomy, privacy and confidentiality, and is sensitive to individuals’ needs and perspectives. States must ensure that effective accountability and redressal mechanisms are in place at the individual, as well as institutional levels.
In this thematic resources edition, we have collated key resources and guidelines on ensuring integration of human rights in family planning and sexual and reproductive health programmes and policies.