Family planning, to my understanding, is about how you see your life, not just how many kids you want to have, it’s about how you want your life to be and what goals you want to achieve.
-Daniel Mboya, Group Leader, Tarumbeta Afrika
In my understanding, family planning means having children according to your means and financial stability. It’s important for young people to access contraceptives so that they can think and plan about their lives and also encourage other people in the society.
-Winfred Kethi, 26, Tarumbeta Afrika
If you live in Europe, family planning may not be something that you have thought about in too much detail. It sounds easy and in some areas of the world, it is. A standard trip to your doctor leads to contraceptive protection and the ability to choose when and how you have a family. Indeed, a survey of 2699 young people aged 14-19 in Europe, showed that 97.5% respondents were using contraception, based upon which one can assume they had easy and comfortable access to family planning.
However, Europe is not the standard.
The State of the African Women Report, published in 2018, hones in on the reality of family planning access to women living in Africa. Despite the commitment of 52 African nations to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services as part of the Maputo Protocol of 2003, there is still progress to be made.
In total, there are only 28% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa, 23% of women in Middle Africa and 17% of women in West Africa who are using any form of contraception and nearly a quarter of all women (24%) have no access to contraception whatsoever.
Of course, this inevitably leads to a higher fertility rate, rendering women unable to complete their education or even consider their careers – The total fertility rate for the African continent is the highest in the world, at an estimated 4.6 children per women, a stark contrast to Europe which has a fertility rate of 1.58 children per woman.
When you read those statistics, it is certainly easy to see how for Daniel and Winfred, family planning is about more than just contraception, it is about being able to take control of your life and achieve your goals.
Perspective and Change
So next time you are on your way to your standard family planning appointment, take the time to appreciate how lucky you are to have that level of control over your life and your future.
You can find out more about the Right By Her project and the work we are doing to highlight the gap between the rights and realities of women across Africa here.
To help us spread the word about the #rightsvsrealities of the Maputo Protocol commitments to family planning, please share this blog post.
Photographs taken by Brian Otieno.