Violence against women is also: Limiting access to contraceptives

Family Planning Action Against Hunger

Photo: Guillaume Gaffiot for Action Against Hunger, Burkina Faso.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 12 – Limiting access to contraceptives



Gender dynamics and contraceptive use

Family planning programs are key to ensuring reproductive and sexual health of women. At present, the lack of access to family planning methods has led to approximately 303,000 deaths annually through pregnancy related causes. Even then, reproductive health isn’t just physical health; according to the WHO, it also includes the mental and social well-being of women. It comprises of all reproductive processes and functions, not just pregnancy but at all stages of life. Family planning therefore goes beyond physical and sexual well-being of women. Instead, it important to consider how contraceptive use can be affected by gender norms and inequality. In many of the countries that Action Against Hunger operates in, women tend to marry and have children at a very early age. Most of these women have little or no say in family planning decisions, and often have 2 or 3 children in the space of 5 years. Pauline Iokere is an example of this. Married at 14, she has already had 2 children by the age of 17 and is in charge of caring for them, collecting food, completing household duties, as well as cooking and caring for her husband after work.


Family planning and gender equality go hand in hand

Educating both women and men on the importance of family planning is essential for achieving gender equality. More importantly, women need to be informed of their family planning rights and of methods, so that they can have just as much of a say as their husbands when deciding on the number of children to have. At present, Action Against Hunger is helping mothers like Pauline in Kenya, through the implementation of mother-to-mother support groups, but also father-to-father support groups. These support groups have been educating husbands on their household responsibilities, as well as on the rights of their wives. This is contributing to changing the cultural norms, which often favour men.

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Photo: Ben Stevens for Action Against Hunger, Mali.


Ending violence against women is key to ending hunger.