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There can be no gender equality without abortion and contraception

It’s Women’s History Month and the world is flooded with proclamations in support of gender equality and women’s rights. Too often, however, popular narratives that celebrate historical progress on gender issues leave out abortion and contraception, sidelining the fact that without them gender equality would not have been possible.

Millions of women and girls will be denied access to abortion this year, forced into unplanned pregnancies or resorting to unsafe abortions. Abortion continues to be unfairly restricted around the world, with the recent introduction of new state bans in the United States. Supreme Court Cancellation Decision Legal protection for abortion established in the 1970s.

in the meantime, 200 million or more People in need of modern contraception still have no access to it. From women living in rural areas where such services are often out of reach, to adolescents and unmarried women where the use of contraceptives is taboo.

The stigma and disinformation shamelessly spread by groups opposed to choice have resulted in laws criminalizing abortion, suppression of accurate sexual health information, and a culture of shame and silence about people’s reproductive choices. Marginalized, rural, low-income communities who cannot access private health care or travel for services are most affected.

result, just 57 percent Eight women around the world make informed decisions about sex and reproductive health. How can we achieve equality when we are denied ownership over our bodies and healthcare and have limited access to essential life-saving health services?

That is why the lack of support for universal access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, undermines global efforts to promote gender equality.

Gender equality requires access to contraception and safe abortion. Because without it, a woman’s life is in danger. In Addis Ababa, where I grew up, I saw firsthand the impact of lack of access to reproductive health information and services.

Someone I know committed suicide because she didn’t know who to turn to after her pregnancy. One day another girl disappeared from class and she never came back. Then she heard rumors that she ingested bleach in an attempt to end her pregnancy.To this day, I don’t know if she was alive or she was dead.

The situation today is no different. From Africa to Latin America, about three quarters Whether abortion is unsafe. Globally, almost half of abortions are performed in unsafe ways. Women who resort to unsafe abortions pose long-term health complications and devastating risks to their lives.

But access to abortion and contraception goes far beyond immediate life-saving medical care. As Africa Director of MSI Reproductive Choices, I help women and girls make informed decisions about their bodies and their futures.

It goes hand in hand with keeping girls educated and helping women pursue careers. Break the cycle of poverty and promote women’s political and economic participation. All of these help promote gender equality and support several global development goals.

Take education for example. By increasing adolescent access to these health care options, millions of girls will be able to attend school. It isAnnually in sub-Saharan Africa Up to 4 million teenage girls Dropped out of school due to pregnancy.only in niger 1/100 Girls graduate from junior high school.A girl’s future income is maximized just by adding her one year of education 20 percent And we have to do everything we can to make it happen.

Education provides women with opportunities for economic independence, another prerequisite for gender equality. If a woman can control her fertility, she can break the cycle of poverty and transform her life, her family and the world. Women’s equal participation in the economy has the potential to boost global gross domestic product (GDP). $28 trillion.

Conversely, denying someone an abortion can create years of financial hardship. Increased household povertyliabilities, and the possibility of bankruptcy and eviction.

Education and economic stability help people become leaders, bring about social change and exercise political power. These activities are still carried out by men. For a woman, these are closely related to her ability to voluntarily and reproductively access her health care.

I often think of the girls I used to go to school with. We remember the girls who lost their lives to unintended pregnancies. If they had access to contraception or safe abortion care, I imagine things would have been different. They may have continued their education, determined personal life goals and careers, led change within their communities, and had children when or if it was appropriate.

We can do better for the next generation of women and girls. As we continue our important work to advance women’s rights and extend access to modern contraception to all who want it, abortion must also be front and center. yeah. Abortion is a normal thing, so we should talk more. Because abortion is healthcare, it must be funded and invested in. And because abortion is a human right, barriers to abortion must be broken down.

It is clear that the path to gender equality is paved by access to abortion and contraception.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial attitude of Al Jazeera.

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