Today, childbirth is the leading cause of death for teenage girls, aged 15 to 19, around the world.
As a result of cultural biases, child marriages, and impoverished conditions, girls as young as 9 years of age are married and face pregnancy in their teenage years in countries like Niger and Senegal. When they are married off, the promises of education fall to the curb and early motherhood often becomes their destiny.
Young mothers lacking an education, studies show, are less able to avoid poverty, avoid premature illness or death, or keep their families healthy. Families thrive less—and the world is a less healthy place—when young mothers continue to have child after child, often without knowing the means by which they might survive. A cycle of poverty and hardship can ensue.
Born out of the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) program aimed to increase access to contraceptives to 120 million women and girls worldwide in the poorest countries by 2020. Currently, 53 million more women and girls are using modern contraception than were doing so in 2012.
The FP2020 program states that, in line with country strategies to deliver family planning services, 10 dimensions of family planning are supported, including but not limited to: accessibility, acceptability, quality, empowerment, and voice and participation.
If enacted, the program’s vision could help break biases and rebuild perspective on the value of girls and women in society. But what is certain is that the impact of family planning services and education goes far. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-third of global maternal deaths—roughly 100,000 deaths—could be prevented annually “if women who did not wish to become pregnant had access to and used effective contraception.” FP2020 has helped guide national governments in many countries to deliver such efforts.