Globally, 222 million women have an unmet need for contraception. As a result, an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies will occur in the developing world this year alone. Insufficient access to contraception is an American problem too – the U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies among industrialized countries.
The United Nation's annual population report issued earlier this month stated that wider contraceptive use could save the world $5.7 billion.
According to The State of World Population 2012: By Choice, Not By Chance – Family Planning, Human Rights and Development:
“By investing an additional $4.1 billion in modern contraceptive services in developing countries, the world would save approximately $5.7 billion in maternal and newborn health services as a consequence of preventing unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions.”
With more than 7 billion people on the planet, $5.7 billion represents an investment of less than $1 per person. That's a great return to secure a better quality of life for millions. Imagine how much further along we’d be toward a sustainable path if we’d made more extensive use of contraception as few as 10 years ago when the global population hit 6 billion.
“Studies have shown that investments in girls’ education, women’s reproductive rights, and greater access to voluntary family planning correlate with healthier families, higher family incomes, economic development, and environmental sustainability,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “These are important outcomes not only for these women, but for the world at large.”
Not only does investment in and education about contraception build a better quality of life for millions of families, it also would boost the economy. For a global economy that’s generally in decline, this seems like one of the best proposals put forth.