[NEW YORK, 30 March 2022] — Nearly half of all pregnancies, totaling 121 million each year worldwide, are unintended. For affected women and girls, the most life-changing reproductive choice – getting pregnant or not – is no choice at all, says the State of World Population 2022 report, released today by UNFPA, the United Nations agency for sexual and reproductive health. .
The groundbreaking report, “Seeing the Invisible: The Case for Action in the Neglected Crisis of Unwanted Pregnancy,” warns that this human rights crisis has profound consequences for societies, women and girls, and global health. More than 60% of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion and an estimated 45% of all abortions are unsafe, causing 5-13% of all maternal deaths, which has a major impact on the world’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The war in Ukraine and other conflicts and crises around the world are expected to lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies, as access to contraception is disrupted and sexual violence increases.
“This report is a wake-up call. The staggering number of unwanted pregnancies represents a global failure to uphold the basic human rights of women and girls,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “For the women involved, the most life-altering reproductive choice – getting pregnant or not – is not a choice at all. By putting the power to make this most fundamental decision in the hands of women and girls, societies can ensure that motherhood is an aspiration, not an inevitability.
Key Findings: Gender Inequality and Stalled Development Drive High Rates of Unintended Pregnancy
Globally, an estimated 257 million women who wish to avoid pregnancy are not using modern, safe methods of contraception, and where data is available, almost a quarter of all women are not in able to say no to sex. A range of other key factors also contribute to unintended pregnancies, including:
- Lack of sexual and reproductive health care and information
- Birth control options that are not suitable for a woman’s body or situation
- Harmful norms and stigma surrounding women controlling their own fertility and bodies
- Sexual violence and reproductive coercion
- Judgmental attitudes or shame in health services
- Poverty and stalled economic development
- Gender inequality
All of these factors reflect the pressure societies place on women and girls to become mothers. An unwanted pregnancy is not necessarily a personal failure and may be due to the lack of autonomy that society allows or the value placed on women’s lives.
When the crisis hits, unwanted pregnancies increase
Crises and conflict rob women of their agency at all levels, dramatically increasing the risk of unwanted pregnancy when it is most threatening. Women often lose access to contraceptives and sexual violence is on the rise, with some studies showing that more than 20% of refugee women and girls will face sexual violence. In Afghanistan, war and disruptions to health systems are expected to result in an estimated 4.8 million unintended pregnancies by 2025, jeopardizing the country’s overall stability, peace and recovery.
“If you had 15 minutes to get out of your house, what would you take? Would you take your passport? Food? Do you remember your birth control? said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “In the days, weeks and months after a crisis begins, sexual and reproductive health and protection services save lives, protect women and girls from harm and prevent unwanted pregnancies. They are as vital as food, water and shelter.
The responsibility to act
The report shows how easily the most fundamental rights of women and girls are pushed into the background in times of peace and in the midst of war. It calls on policy makers and health systems to prioritize the prevention of unintended pregnancies by improving the accessibility, acceptability, quality and variety of contraception and by dramatically expanding quality care and information in matters of sexual and reproductive health.
It urges policy makers, community leaders and all individuals to empower women and girls to make positive decisions about sex, contraception and motherhood, and to foster societies that recognize the full value of women. and girls. If they do, women and girls will be able to contribute fully to society and have the tools, information and power to make this fundamental choice – to have children or not – for themselves.
Notes to Editors
The State of World Population Report is UNFPA’s flagship annual publication. Published annually since 1978, it highlights emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, bringing them into the mainstream and exploring the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.
The analysis in this report is based on new data from our partner, the Guttmacher Institute, released on March 24.
As the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA helps people get lifesaving contraceptive and reproductive health services and information, and empowers women and girls to make informed decisions. about their body and their life.
- You can access UNFPA’s report on the state of world population, Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the unknownly crisis of non-desired here: www.unfpa.org/swp2022
- For more information about UNFPA, please visit: www.unfpa.org
- For interviews or more information, please contact:
- Eddie Wright: [email protected], +1 917 831 2074
- Zina Alam: [email protected], +1 929 378 9431
Five Key Facts of SoWP 2022:
1. Almost half of all pregnancies are unintended each year.
- Between 2015 and 2019, there were approximately 121 million unintended pregnancies worldwide each year.
2. Globally, an estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception.
- In 47 countries, approximately 40% of sexually active women were not using any contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy.
3. Nearly a quarter of all women are unable to say no to sex (when data is available).
- Contraceptive use is 53% lower among women who have experienced domestic violence.
- Studies show that rape-related pregnancies are as likely or more likely to occur than pregnancies resulting from consensual sex.
4. More than 60% of unwanted pregnancies and almost 30% of all pregnancies end in abortion.
- 45% of all abortions performed worldwide are unsafe.
- Unsafe abortions hospitalize approximately 7 million women a year worldwide and cause 5-13% of all maternal deaths, one of the leading causes of maternal death.
- In developing countries, unsafe abortions cost an estimated $553 million a year in treatment costs alone.
5. In humanitarian emergencies, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, many women lose access to contraception and/or experience sexual violence.
- Some studies have shown that more than 20% of refugee women and girls will face sexual violence.
- An estimated 4.8 million unintended pregnancies will occur in Afghanistan by 2025 due to disruptions in the healthcare system and gender inequality.
- During the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the estimated disruption to contraceptive supplies and services lasted an average of 3.6 months, resulting in up to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.