It’s World Contraception Day — Why It Matters for Refugees

by Emileigh Clare

Happy World Contraception Day!

Did you know that improving access to contraception use, such as condoms or long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs, can change a young person’s life? Whether it means being able to continue education through high school or college, or waiting to start a family until more financial resources are available --  condoms, and other contraceptives -- are life changing for us all.

In fact, according to a recent analysis by Guttmacher Institute researcher Laura Lindberg and colleagues, improvements in contraceptive use were a key driving factor in the decline in pregnancy risk among young women in the United States between 2007 and 2014. As a result of simple access to family planning items like condoms or the Pill, more and more young women in the U.S. have been empowered to make decisions for their bodies that make sense to them.

Better access to contraceptives is also important for refugees.

The Unmentionables recognizes that some of the most common complaints displaced women have are related to reproductive health; yet reliable access to family planning options and reproductive health education and services remain elusive and inconsistent. Improved access to birth control empowers refugee women and young couples to make informed choices about their future while in transit or at their final destination. Sex still happens during times of displacement and relocation, and in many cases, an unwanted pregnancy adds significant difficulty to an already desperate and dangerous situation.

At our Resource Center in Athens, Greece, refugee men and women can learn about different forms of contraception from our Community Educators. In addition to providing education on the types of birth control available, Community Educators address cultural concerns, give practical information about how to use family planning methods as well as explain potential side effects. This gives people the knowledge to choose which method is best for them as well as how to use these tools safely and effectively.

For many of the people we see at the Resource Center, it's the first time they've laid eyes on contraceptives, ever.

While it’s necessary to provide information on all methods of family planning, condoms are critically important in the refugee context as many people are forced to resort to survival sex. They are one of the most accessible and inexpensive forms of birth control and intimate infection prevention available worldwide, yet they are often overlooked when it comes to providing aid in displacement situations.

On World Contraception Day, Join us in raising awareness and supporting the important need for every person to be able to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.

Emileigh Clare