“Young people are our future. Meeting the unmet need for family planning and contraception will help them secure theirs.”
- Renate Bähr, Managing Director DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung), Germany
The United Nations formulated it very clearly in its Millennium Development Goals: family planning is a fundamental right of every human being. The freedom to personally determine the timing of a pregnancy strengthens above all the position of women in society. It helps reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, because many pregnancies in quick succession put mother and child at risk.
However, much remains to be done before the right to self-determined family planning is implemented worldwide. According to estimates by the WHO published in 2012, more than 200 million women in developing countries want reliable and modern contraception but have no access to it. And according to the Annual Report of DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung), 80 million women unintentionally become pregnant every year worldwide, and more than half a million die of complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
Family planning is an important step toward breaking the cycle of poverty – both for women and their families and for the countries where they live. By slowing down the rapid pace of population growth we can help initiate sustainable development – by improving people's quality of life, investing in education, securing resources for the entire population, protecting the environment.
For 50 years now, Bayer has been working as part of a network of public and private partners to enable women and girls to assert their right to self-determined family planning worldwide. In recognition of this long-standing commitment, we were accepted in 2007 as a member of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) – as the first pharmaceutical company.
Three essential pillars
Success in the promotion of family planning stems from three main pillars: first, information and counseling, because only knowledge of the possibilities and consequences of active family planning empowers individuals to take independent decisions; second, access to contraceptives, including the freedom to choose between different methods; and third, support from the social environment, because it is too much to expect young people in particular to take independent decisions against the will of their family or social group.
Bayer supports family planning programs in over 130 countries providing access to modern contraceptives for women worldwide. We are doing this in joint projects with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Within these programs Bayer offers a broad range of hormonal contraception methods like oral contraceptives, injections and implants. The indicator CYP (Couple Years of Protection) denotes the number of couples who used the contraceptives provided for a year.
Renate Bähr, the DSW’s Executive Director, explains why giving women and couples the freedom to decide whether, when and how many children they would like to have is not just an abstract wish, but an urgent necessity.