Democratic Republic of the Congo: Unwanted Pregnancies Represent a ‘True Global Crisis’ (Report)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its 2022 World Report on April 13. This 150+ page document focuses on unwanted pregnancies while challenging communities, citing the increasing need for family planning, clandestine abortions and the importance of allowing people to do so affects women and girls to assert their decisions about sexuality.

“Understanding the Unnoticeable: Taking Action to Solve the Forgotten Crisis of Unwanted Pregnancy,” is the title of this report. The 4 most important points to remember.

Counting

According to UNFPA, almost half of the pregnancies worldwide are unintended pregnancies, totaling 121 million each year. Numerically, more than 60% of unwanted pregnancies end in termination and it is estimated that 45% of voluntary terminations are unsafe and account for 5-13% of maternal deaths.

According to global estimates, 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern and safe contraceptive methods, and in countries for which data are available, almost a quarter of women cannot refuse sex.

Gender inequalities and developmental delays lead to a high rate

According to the report, several other factors favor unwanted pregnancies. In particular, the fact that available contraceptives are not adapted to women’s bodies or situations, the harmful norms and stigma faced by women who control their bodies and fertility, sexual violence and reproductive coercion, judgmental or degrading attitudes of healthcare providers, poverty and delays in economic development, and gender inequalities.

“All of these factors speak to the pressure that society puts on women and girls to become mothers. An unwanted pregnancy does not necessarily represent a personal failure and can be explained by the lack of autonomy granted by society or by the value placed on a woman’s life,” the report points out.

When a crisis hits, unwanted pregnancies increase

The report also points out that in times of crisis and conflict, women often lack access to contraceptives. Sexual violence is also on the rise, affecting more than 20% of refugee women and girls according to some studies. “It is estimated that war and health system disruptions in Afghanistan could lead to 4.8 million unwanted pregnancies by 2025, a real threat to the country’s stability, peace and recovery.”

In this context, the Executive Director of this United Nations body, Dr. Natalia Kanem: “If you had 15 minutes to leave your house, what would you take with you? Her passport ? Meal ? Will you remember to take your contraceptive method? »

The responsibility to act

UNFPA calls on policymakers and health system managers to make the prevention of unwanted pregnancy a priority by improving the accessibility, acceptability, quality and variety of contraceptive methods, while significantly expanding the range of quality care and information about sexual and reproductive health .

It also calls on politicians, community leaders and individuals to empower women and girls in their choices about sexuality, contraception and reproduction and to encourage society to recognize their worth as “human beings”. In this way, women and girls can actively participate in the life of society and have the necessary tools, information and skills to make this fundamental decision for themselves: to give life or not.

Published annually since 1978, The State of the World Population (UNFPA Annual Report) highlights emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, brings them to the attention of the general public and takes an interest in the challenges and perspectives they pose for international development .

Understanding the Unseen: Taking Action to Solve the Forgotten Crisis of Unintended Pregnancy is available at this link: www.unfpa.org/swp2022

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