Holy Hormones Journal: I so believe in empowering girls about their reproductive health. And at first reading – I was applauding this new reproductive revolution. Educating girls and women and providing access to contraception as well as access to femcare products is crucial in reducing fertility rates. But when I read that the girls were being given condoms, pills and injectable contraceptives – my joy subsided.
These young girls are not prepared to handle the impact of synthetic hormones on their ‘unalduterated’ bodies (by that I mean bodies who have not been exposed to or built up an immunity to toxins. ). Injectable contraceptives – which is what I believe is being used more than the pill – due to human error (forgetfulness) is none other than Depo Provera. And there are hundreds of women suffering side effects and withdrawal symptoms coming off this chemical contraceptive.
Revolutions take lives… hopefully, this one will not.
Sex and survival: reducing fertility rates among adolescent girls
To succeed, family planning programmes must empower girls. Mushtaque Chowdhury suggests how to start a ‘reproductive revolution’
Lack of family planning, along with other barriers to sexual and reproductive rights and health, remain obstacles to progress on several key development indicators. Progress, for instance, on achieving universal primary education for the world as a whole has stalled at roughly 90% largely because education systems in sub-Saharan Africa are unable to keep up with the rising numbers of children. While training community volunteers and improving antenatal and emergency obstetric care can go a long way towards lowering maternal mortality, we will not have really solved these problems until the fertility rate drops.
Bangladesh was in a similar situation not long ago. In 1982, Bangladesh’s fertility rate stood at about 6.1 births per woman, roughly the same as the current rate for Uganda, number six of the top 10 countries with the highest fertility rates in the world. Recent figures show Bangladesh’s fertility rate plummeting to near replacement level, “one of the steepest declines in history,” according to The Economist.
So how did we do it? I first joined the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee in 1977. We worked with the government and other NGOs on a massive outreach campaign to address the direct and indirect determinants of family planning adoption. By increasing demand and expanding access to family planning methods, we helped raise Bangladesh’s rate of contraceptive prevalence from 12.7% in 1980 to 61.2% in 2011.
Termed a “reproductive revolution“, the shift was especially remarkable in that it took place even while Bangladesh remained one of the world’s poorest countries. It happened largely at the village level, with women field workers and an army of local volunteers given incentives to distribute information, condoms, pills and injectable contraceptives.