Family Planning Saves Lives: A 2-Minute Film
Women and adolescent girls in refugee and internally displaced settings struggle with unwanted, unplanned and poorly spaced pregnancies; this is often due to lack of access to counseling, contraceptives and information. Not being able to access family planning threatens their lives and the well-being of their families.
Many women are driven to extreme measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies, putting their lives in danger. A 2003 study of Burmese women refugees living in Thailand revealed that two-thirds of interviewed women tried to induce their own abortion through herbal medicines and other dangerous methods. Such practices often require immediate care and treatment. Over a three-month period in 2008, postabortion care was the most frequently sought emergency obstetric service in southern Sudan, indicating an urgent need for family planning services.
Even where family planning services do exist, women and girls are often deterred from using contraception by partners, community leaders, peers—and sometimes even by health providers. A study of refugee women in Tanzania revealed that 39 percent of women who sought family planning services discontinued their visits due to their husbands’ disapproval. In many areas affected by crisis, displaced persons are unaware of the benefits of family planning. For those who have heard about contraception, many do not know where it is available or cannot access it because supplies at their local clinics are insufficient.
The Women’s Refugee Commission’s sexual and reproductive health program works to address the critical gaps in family planning: