Contraception is not a woman’s responsibility alone, it must involve men as well | opinion | Comment | Hindustan Times
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Contraception is not a woman’s responsibility alone, it must involve men as well

According to the latest National Family Health Survey, female sterilisation remains the preferred method of contraception across India (36% of married women aged 15-49 years), while male sterilisation is extremely low (0.3%). Women and men are both responsible and should participate equally in family planning, yet women continue to bear the brunt of this burden. Men need to share this responsibility with women and make informed choices about family planning.

opinion Updated: Sep 28, 2017 12:40 IST
Although it is a woman who carries a child, ironically, she is often not given the freedom to decide whether, when and how many children she wants. Enabling women to exercise this right can ensure that every pregnancy is wanted.
Although it is a woman who carries a child, ironically, she is often not given the freedom to decide whether, when and how many children she wants. Enabling women to exercise this right can ensure that every pregnancy is wanted. (AFP)

Every 12 minutes a woman in India dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. If these women were given information about reproductive health and had access to reproductive healthcare, these deaths could have been prevented. Although it is a woman who carries a child, ironically, she is often not given the freedom to decide whether, when and how many children she wants. Enabling women to exercise this right can ensure that every pregnancy is wanted.

Family planning is a key health intervention which has a direct impact on the health of mothers and children by ensuring that women have access to birth spacing methods. When couples use family planning, they are able to care for their families better. Every family should prepare themselves to meet the needs of mothers and children and have the necessary financial resources to ensure the health of the family. If this is not properly addressed, it adversely affects the ability of the mother to access and ensure her reproductive health, subsequently impacting the health of the child.

However, family planning is not only about contraceptive use. Women should also have access to information and to a range of contraceptive choices. This means that women need information and access to safe, effective and affordable methods of birth control. In addition, access to reproductive health services and education programmes that stress on the importance of family planning for safe pregnancy and childbirth, would improve the health of mothers and their children.

On September 26 every year, we observe ‘World Contraception Day’. This global initiative aims to raise awareness about family planning and envisions a world where every pregnancy is wanted. In India, there is a disproportionate burden on women to use contraception, across all sections of society. According to the latest National Family Health Survey, female sterilisation remains the preferred method of contraception across India (36% of married women aged 15-49 years), while male sterilisation is extremely low (0.3%). Women and men are both responsible and should participate equally in family planning, yet women continue to bear the brunt of this burden. Men need to share this responsibility with women and make informed choices about family planning.

Women and girls deserve the opportunity to make their own decisions about their health and their futures. No country can reach its full potential if half of its population is disempowered. When women and girls are empowered to plan their families, they are more likely to stay in school, advance in their education, participate in their communities, join the workforce and empower future generations of women. Women’s health, empowerment and family planning are all inextricably linked. We cannot advance the former without investing in the latter.

Milind Soman is a model, actor and fitness promoter

The views expressed are personal