One of the biggest decisions I ever made in my life was choosing to become a mother. Every single aspect of my motherhood was a choice: I decided when I would start to try to have a baby. I selected the sperm donor. I selected the clinic I would go to and which doctor at the clinic I would see. When I did not achieve a pregnancy I was given a choice to walk away or try again.
Over the course of five years I tried to become pregnant over thirteen times. This means that thirteen times I actively was involved in my own fertility. Thirteen times I made a choice. Within those five years of trying there were several times I needed to pause because of emotional reasons, financial reasons, or because my body was just exhausted from trying. But I was the one making the call, with the support of my doctors and family.
As I was trying to conceive I was incredibly aware of how lucky I was to be living in a day and age where a single woman with no husband could achieve motherhood. The clinics I went to were a wonder of science, modern technology, and medication. What an advanced world! For me.
It has been a very advanced world for me. And my uterus, and my clinics, and my choices. Across the world women are dying to get birth control. Literally. Dying. I’ve partnered with EngenderHealth, a global women’s health organization, because I recognize how important it is for women to be able to actively involved in their fertility.
Across the globe, EngenderHealth has proven that even in resource-poor settings, family planning services can be safe, effective, and affordable. EngenderHealth works to improve the quality of services and increase contraceptive options. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a US-based reproductive health think tank, “more than 220 million women in developing countries who want to decide for themselves whether and when to have children do not have access to contraception.” Having access to contraception is life changing for women. It’s not “just” about having children, it’s about being able to decide when to have children.
When a woman can plan she can achieve. Women who have access to contraception are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthier newborns. Plus – the more choice a woman has about the spacing of children means the a great deal about the future of girls and education. This is HUGE.
EngenderHealth works with local communities, local clinics, local government to strengthen the health services available. They focus on training methods that require highly skilled health providers and provide counseling. They also empower men within the communities so they are able to recognize how vital it is to have healthy and strong women. The men become a support system. A few months before I made an appointment with the fertility clinic to begin the process of creating motherhood I spent some time in Uganda. I was there to take photographs and video for an international organization and within the first day I realized I would never see the world the same way ever again. I met young girls who were so excited to be in school, who could not wait to go to University. I think about these girls, many of whom are women now, and hope they were able to continue on the path they started. The work of EngenderHealth gives me hope for women around the world who want to make a choice.
EngenderHealth is working to raise awareness among Americans of the importance of access to contraception around the world. This week they are launching a national campaign that asks ‘WTFP – Where’s the Family Planning?!’
How has having, or not having, access to family planning affected you and those around you? Answer in the comments below for a chance to win a Social Good Goodies bag.
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