Empowering Women, Globally
By 2030, we are committed to providing 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception.
In many parts of the world, girls’ and women’s ability to determine their path in life comes down to the decision on whether and/or when to start a family. This decision often depends on access to contraception and family planning options, which in turn can be a key factor in whether or not many women pursue an education or career. Empowering women and girls to choose the number, timing and spacing of their pregnancies is a matter of health and is a human right. Additionally, data has shown that when women have access to contraception, their role in society is strengthened, and this has multiple positive effects for their families, communities and societies as a whole.
In contrast, lack of awareness, access and social acceptance of contraception present huge obstacles for many women as they try to take control of their lives. According to the United Nations, however, over 200 million women in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) who want to avoid pregnancy don't use safe and effective family planning methods.
At Bayer, we have the fundamental belief that empowering girls and women, and providing them access to family planning, are central for sustainable development and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is also in line with our mission ‘’Health for All, Hunger for None’’. Family planning plays a crucial role in reducing poverty and hunger, improving the health and well-being of communities, ensuring high-quality education and economic growth, and sparking institutional and ecological changes that move toward fairness and equality.
For more than 50 years, Bayer has been supporting education programs and rights-based family planning in more than 130 countries, particularly with access to safe, modern forms of contraception. As a leader in women’s health, we have committed ourselves to help provide access to modern contraceptives for 100 million women per year around the world by 2030, and this is not limited to Bayer products. With a focus on women in LMICs, our aim is both to increase awareness of self-determined family planning and safeguard the availability and affordability of contraceptives.
By providing access to contraceptives, we are making an important contribution to improving the health, rights and economic status of women around the world, which is a fundamental basis for greater equality, education and prosperity for all.
Bayer is partnering with local and international organizations to enable women around the world to determine their own future and realize their full potential by making informed decisions about family planning. Currently, we already provide contraceptives to around 40 million women in LMICs annually through international support programs and as a leading supplier in the private sector. To expand our reach to 100 million women in LMICs annually, we are focusing our efforts in two key areas:
When it comes to deciding on a method of contraception, a woman’s personal circumstances can play just as much of a role as personal preferences and medical indications. For example, reversible long-acting methods such as contraceptive implants or intrauterine systems are the most effective reversible contraceptive methods and more practical in regions where medical provision is patchy. This is because these usually do not require ongoing effort on the part of the patient for long-term and effective use once they have been put in place. The demand for long-acting methods in particular is set to grow considerably in the coming years.
As rising demand significantly exceeds current market availability, we are looking at how to increase our production so contraceptives can be made more readily available to women in LMICs.
In LMIC countries that have a local pharmaceutical market but where contraceptives are still to be paid out-of-pocket, we are aiming to apply our equitable pricing approach, thereby providing more access for more patients. This includes the hormonal IUS Mirena™ as one of Bayer’s most popular contraceptive devices.
Currently, we are proud of the many partnerships we have with aid organizations that provide women with free access to contraceptives. We aim to provide these organizations with contraceptives at a low cost to meet their budgets, and we will be looking to extend this effort as part of our commitment to providing 100 million women in LMICs with access to family planning.
- At present, around half of the world’s population is without access to modern intrauterine systems such as Mirena®. We make this product available to supranational organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide women with more choice in their family planning options, including long-acting methods of contraception.
Capacity building refers to the development of knowledge, skills, commitment, structures, systems and leadership to enable and strengthen self-reliance and resilience of local health systems. Together with our partners, we are implementing scalable interventions and promoting best practices to:
- Develop and strengthen local health systems
- Enable local health systems on their journey towards self-reliance
- Support the autonomy of local health systems
We are involved in numerous initiatives and collaborations worldwide for this purpose and are continuing to expand our efforts as part of our 100 million commitment. In addition to working with our partners on global education programs and awareness campaigns such as World Contraception Day, we focus our capacity building efforts on three primary settings:
Urban Low-Resource Settings
We are continuing to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations to support The Challenge Initiative (TCI), which aims to rapidly and sustainably scale up proven reproductive health solutions among the urban poor in cities in Africa and Asia. Our support of TCI is independent of the use of Bayer products.
Through cross-divisional collaboration, we are supporting the Bayer Crop Science organization and external partners in empowering smallholder farmers with family planning resources to help improve their livelihoods.
Bayer plans to work with partners that have strong presence and solid experience in humanitarian settings to address the challenges of providing access to family planning this context. We are committed to working with partners such as UNFPA to identify concrete ways to reach those left furthest behind in some of the most challenging, crisis-ridden parts of the world. At the intersection of family planning and humanitarian response we aim to provide Bayer’s technical, logistical and medical expertise to support our parters by helping them strengthen supply chains, overcome bottlenecks and address the information need for family planning and sexual and reproductive health (source).
The goal to provide 100m women in 2030 with access to modern contraception is built on the insight that the demand for contraception in the low and low-middle income countries (LMICs) will grow over the next decade. By 2030, at least 100 million women more than today will be in the reproductive age range of 15 to 49 years in LMICs. Structured family planning programs and accelerating shifts in social norms will make it likely that future generations of young women will be unwilling to miss out on the benefits of voluntary family planning. With that in mind, the idea of the 100 million appears to be a valuable target level for an aspirational goal setting.
In 2020, Bayer’s contraceptive products, including pills, injectables, intrauterine devices (IUD), intrauterine systems (IUS) and implants were used by around 40 million women in LMICs. More than the half of these women received products via the donor-funded public model, while the other half receive the products via private channels.
We are seeing a global trend towards long-acting reversible contraceptive methods. In LMICs this trend is predominantly addressed by hormonal implants. The current demand for such implants already exceeds the available supply. Considering this, Bayer has increased the supply capacity for its implant Jadelle by more than 30 percent in 2020, with plans to ramp this up further over the next decade. Hormonal IUSs such as Mirena, however, are largely underrepresented in LMICs, and more efforts are needed to provide equal access to contraceptive options for all women. Bayer’s goal is to make hormonal IUSs available and affordable for all women who might benefit from their contraceptive or non-contraceptive use.
In short, Bayer is looking to increase supplies of contraceptive products in LMICs according to demand, which will benefit about 70 million women in 2030, in order to satisfy this demand. While most additional family planning supplies will be provided to the donor-funded development aid sector, Bayer is pursuing the long-term strategy of creating sustainable, donor-independent business models. This is in line with the aspirations of many other stakeholders in the family planning ecosystem.
Product availability is only one prerequisite for providing access to contraception, while many other interventions need to be implemented at the local level. Therefore, we will also contribute a complementary portfolio of product-independent initiatives. This rounds off our holistic approach to improve access to modern family planning, with the aspiration of supporting 100 million women by 2030. Such ambitious objectives are made possible through partnerships, whereby the TCI program run by the Johns Hopkins University is one key example. To reach our ambitious targets, more successful partnerships need to be developed, also in rural areas and humanitarian settings.
The number of users reached in each year is calculated from the client data provided by our project partners and from internal supply data, if it relates to our own products. The data is translated into user numbers according to couple-years-of-protection methodology, as it is used by USAID and updated by Marie-Stopes International. As with its other sustainability targets, Bayer will monitor and report the outcomes of the 100m women goal with the same rigor as financial targets on an annual basis.