Access to safe, accurate, high quality,affordable, acceptable and voluntary family planning is a basic human right yetthousands of young girls and women who want to avoid pregnancy in Kenya’s ruralareas lack access to family planning information and services. Women and girlsliving in rural areas are usually at risk because they are usually denied basicreproductive health and rights services and information. They are forced tocarry pregnancies, give birth in dangerous circumstances, and in many placeswomen are sterilized without their informed consent or even knowledge.

Limited access to reproductive health services,gender inequality, stock outs, distance to health point, cultural norms, andlack of skilled service providers are some of the barriers to accessing familyplanning services in rural areas and have led to them having poor healthoutcomes.

In Kenya, young girls and women below the age of24 years account for 70% of all the pregnancies. Most of these pregnancies areusually unintended and occur in rural areas. 50% of married and sexually activeunmarried women in Kenya’s rural areas have unmet needs for family planning.(KDHS2014)

Research has shown that Family planning isusually central to women’s empowerment and gender equality, saves lives and isa key factor in reducing poverty.

Bearing in mind that 76% of Kenya’s extreme poorlive in rural areas, we must ensure that women living in rural areas haveaccess to family planning information and services to decrease hunger andpoverty, and make them play a critical role in the success of the SustainableDevelopment Goals, Vison 2030 and family planning 2020 goals.

According to United Nation Population Fund,Family planning reduces unintended pregnancies, reduces the number of unsafeabortions and lowers maternal mortality and child morbidity brought about bycomplications during pregnancy and childbirth. If all women living in ruralareas with unmet needs for family planning were able to use modern methods offamily planning, thousands of lives in rural areas could be saved.

Family planning information and services alsoempower women to plan if and when to have children. Through this they arebetter enabled to complete their education, their autonomy within theirhouseholds is increased and their earning power is improved. This strengthenstheir economic security and well-being and that of their families.

Denying women the power and means to control thenumber and spacing of their children, would deny them of their human rights tohealth, life, and equal opportunity. I call upon the government of Kenya toensure that safe, accurate, high quality, free, acceptable and voluntary familyplanning services and information reach all women more so those who are poor,young and live in rural areas.

This article was also shared on rural reporters.