With the advancements in science and health over the past years, life has improved and became more comfortable. The limits of the past are gradually reducing, and the future seems bright. But despite the exploits of the present, there is still a need to build on the successes of yesterday for an even brighter future. The emergence and advancement of modern contraception as a tool for Family Planning has brought great benefits for timing and spacing of births.
However, there are still unmet needs for Family Planning among many women and young girls, especially in developing countries. Barriers to accessing Family Planning - limited choice of methods; limited access to services because of proximity to health facilities, particularly among young, poorer and unmarried people; fear or experience of side-effects; cultural or religious opposition; poor quality of available services; users’ and providers’ bias against some methods; and gender-based barriers to accessing services - still exist.
Discussions on sexual health and contraceptive care have been a game changer for many people, especially young people. With contraceptive care, it is possible to enjoy one’s sexual life without fear of an unintended pregnancy. Sexually active women and girls have full control over their lives and are able to achieve all their dreams and aspirations. Definitely, contraceptive care is the springboard for women and girls in full control of their bodies and choices.
Having access to contraception is self-care and a way to show love for oneself by prioritizing protection. Our greatest desire as people is to become the answers to the questions of our time and a testament of hope to the next generation. With contraceptive care, we are able to fulfil this desire while having control over our bodies. Contraception is the power to exercise control over important decisions, it provides opportunities and open doors, and gives us the chance to decide the role we want to play in our communities.
The knowledge and use of contraceptives have been a game changer for me and my family’s stability. Becoming sexually active at the age of 21 while still a student and not ready to have kids at the time, I opted for modern contraception. Yes, I needed it to graduate! Again, my elder sister opted for an implant as a Family Planning tool after having her first child and had her second child 5 years later. Being able to plan the time of birth helped our family to stay financially independent, while pursuing other dreams and saving up for other projects.
Young people are not only the present, they are the future. In 10-15 years, the current generation of young people may become parents and guardians to the next generation. It is imperative that they are empowered by policy makers and progressive laws to make informed decisions that will better the lives of the next generation in a rapidly changing world.
People having the power to decide for themselves what is right for their bodies and their personal lives, transforms a society and sets it up for success. And as the building blocks of society are individuals, unhindered access to contraceptive care as a life planning tool is a key contributing factor to building our society.
Words by Claudia Lawson, Youth Activist and a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate from Ghana.