Beth Schlachter is interim Executive Director of Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global partnership that supports access for women and girls to contraceptive information, supplies and services.
It’s every woman’s basic right: the power to decide, freely and for herself, whether to have a child. Yet for far too many women and girls around the globe, this right is still out of reach. As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, it is sobering to realize that 225 million women and girls still lack access to modern contraception—and with it, the ability to control whether and when they become pregnant.
That’s where Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) comes in. A global partnership dedicated to expanding access to voluntary contraception for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries, we are committed to ensuring that the “and girls” part of that statement doesn’t become a forgotten footnote.
For an adolescent girl, lack of access to contraception can be especially catastrophic. When a young girl becomes pregnant—typically in the context of an early, forced marriage—it can change the entire course of her life. All too often it heralds an end to her schooling, an evaporation of her career prospects, an impairment of her health and the perpetuation of a cycle of dependency and poverty.