In the last two decades, the percentage of women accessing contraceptives in both developed and developing countries has increased. The United Nations reports that in 2011, over 63 percent of women ages 15 to 49 were using some form of contraception, compared with 54 percent in 1990. This has increased women’s opportunities to choose when and how many children they want to have, which can have a positive impact not only on their right to health, but also on their rights to education, work and an adequate standard of living amongst other human rights.
Despite these advancements, millions of women continue to lack access to modern contraceptives. According to the United Nations Population Fund, recent statistics show that of 867 million women of childbearing age in developing countries who are in need of modern contraceptives, 222 million do not have access to them. Similarly, in developed countries, millions of women are confronted with economic, social and cultural barriers to access contraceptives and family planning services and lack information or education about them. Any policy or program aimed at increasing access to contraception should ensure that women’s decision making needs are at the center of it.