Access to safe, accurate, high quality, affordable, acceptable and voluntary family planning is a basic human right yet thousands of young girls and women who want to avoid pregnancy in Kenya’s rural areas lack access to family planning information and services. Women and girls living in rural areas are usually at risk because they are usually denied basic reproductive health and rights services and information. They are forced to carry pregnancies, give birth in dangerous circumstances, and in many places women 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, and lack of skilled service providers are some of the barriers to accessing family planning services in rural areas and have led to them having poor health outcomes.
In Kenya, young girls and women below the age of 24 years account for 70% of all the pregnancies. Most of these pregnancies are usually unintended and occur in rural areas. 50% of married and sexually active unmarried women in Kenya’s rural areas have unmet needs for family planning. (KDHS2014)
Research has shown that Family planning is usually central to women’s empowerment and gender equality, saves lives and is a key factor in reducing poverty.
Bearing in mind that 76% of Kenya’s extreme poor live in rural areas, we must ensure that women living in rural areas have access to family planning information and services to decrease hunger and poverty, and make them play a critical role in the success of the Sustainable Development Goals, Vison 2030 and family planning 2020 goals.
According to United Nation Population Fund, Family planning reduces unintended pregnancies, reduces the number of unsafe abortions and lowers maternal mortality and child morbidity brought about by complications during pregnancy and childbirth. If all women living in rural areas with unmet needs for family planning were able to use modern methods of family planning, thousands of lives in rural areas could be saved.
Family planning information and services also empower women to plan if and when to have children. Through this they are better enabled to complete their education, their autonomy within their households is increased and their earning power is improved. This strengthens their economic security and well-being and that of their families.
Denying women the power and means to control the number and spacing of their children, would deny them of their human rights to health, life, and equal opportunity. I call upon the government of Kenya to ensure that safe, accurate, high quality, free, acceptable and voluntary family planning 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.
Do you have stories, videos or pictures you would like to share with the world?
Simply click on Post Your Story button placed at the top of the website