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Gender equality cannot be achieved without abortion and contraception

It’s Women’s History Month and the world is filled with declarations of support for gender equality and women’s rights. But too often, the public narrative that celebrates historical progress on gender issues ignores abortion and contraception, marginalizing the fact that without them, gender equality was — and still is — impossible.

This year, millions of women and girls will be denied access to abortion, forced to carry unintended pregnancies to term or resort to unsafe abortions. Abortion continues to be unfairly restricted around the world, most recently in the United States, where a new ban is being introduced by the state with Supreme Court decision to cancel Legal protection for abortion was established in the 1970s.

while, More than 200 million People who want modern contraception still don’t have access to it—from women living in rural communities, where such services often don’t have access, to teens or single women who face taboos about using such protection.

The unabashed spread of stigma and misinformation by anti-choice groups has led to laws criminalizing abortion, suppressing accurate information about sexual health, and a culture of shame and silence about people’s reproductive choices. Marginalized, rural and low-income communities who cannot access private healthcare or travel for services are hardest hit.

Only result 57 percent of women around the world make informed decisions about sex and reproductive health. How can equality be achieved when we are denied agency over our bodies and our health care and when our access to essential, life-saving health care services is restricted? it can not be.

This is why the lack of support for universal access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, makes the world’s efforts to promote gender equality disingenuous.

Gender equality requires access to contraceptives and safe abortion because without them, women’s lives are at stake. In Addis Ababa, where I grew up, I saw firsthand what a lack of access to reproductive health information and services can do.

A woman I knew committed suicide after becoming pregnant because she didn’t know who to turn to. Another girl disappeared from class one day, never to return; Then we heard rumors that she took chlorine in an attempt to terminate her pregnancy. To this day, I don’t know if she lived or died.

The situation today is not much different. across Africa and Latin America, about three-quarters whether abortions are unsafe; Globally, nearly half of all abortions are performed by risky methods. Women who resort to unsafe abortions risk long-term health complications — and their lives.

But access to abortion and contraception goes far beyond life-saving health care. As MSI’s Director of Reproductive Choices in Africa, I help women and girls make informed decisions about their bodies and their futures, and I’ve come to realize that the power of reproductive choice has its ripple effect.

closely related to helping girls stay in education and women pursuing work; It breaks the cycles of poverty and encourages women’s political and economic participation. All of which help advance gender equality and support many of the global development goals.

Take education, for example. By increasing adolescents’ access to these healthcare options, millions of girls can stay in school. Unfortunately, without them, many girls are denied the opportunity to finish their education. every year in sub-Saharan Africa Up to four million teenage girls Dropped out of school due to pregnancy. Only in Niger one in 100 The girls will finish high school. One additional year of education can increase a girl’s future earnings by up to 20 percent And we must do our best to achieve this.

Education brings with it opportunities for financial independence for women, which is another prerequisite for gender equality. When a woman takes control of her own fertility, she can break the cycle of poverty and transform her life, her family, and the world. The equal participation of women in the economy has the potential to boost global GDP. $28 trillion.

On the flip side, denying someone an abortion can create economic hardship that lasts for years. Research has found that women in the United States who did not have access to abortions did Increased family povertydebts and possible bankruptcy and eviction.

Education and economic stability help people become leaders, create social change and wield political power—activities still disproportionately performed by men. And for women, these are closely related to their ability to access reproductive health care on their own terms.

I often think of the girls I went to school with — whose unintended pregnancy ended their lives — and imagine how differently things would have turned out if they had access to contraception or safe abortion care. They may have continued their education, decided on personal life goals and careers, led change within their communities, and had children if or when it was convenient for them.

We can do better for the next generation of women and girls. As we continue the decisive work to advance women’s rights and expand access to modern contraception to all who want it, abortion must also be front and center. We should talk more about miscarriage because it is normal. We need funding and investment in abortion because it’s health care. We must break down barriers to abortion because it is a human right.

Clearly, the path to gender equality is paved with access to abortion and contraception.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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