Why Family Planning Needs Of Rural Women Can No Longer Be Ignored

By Michael Okun Oliech

Access to safe, accurate, high quality, affordable, acceptable and voluntary family planning is a basic human right yet thousands of young girls and women who want to avoid pregnancy in Kenya’s rural areas lack access to these services. In order to survive the odds, this group often takes on risky alternatives of using quacks and uncertified methods.

Limited access to reproductive health services, gender inequality, distance to health centers, cultural norms, and lack of skilled service providers are some of the barriers to accessing family planning services in rural areas.

According to United Nations Population Fund, family planning reduces unintended pregnancies, reduces the number of unsafe abortions, lowers maternal mortality and child morbidity brought about by complications during pregnancy and childbirth. If all women living in rural areas with an unmet need for family planning were able to use modern methods of family planning, thousands of lives in rural areas could be saved.

Research has shown that Family planning is usually central to women empowerment and is a key factor in reducing poverty. Bearing in mind that about 76 percent of Kenya’s extreme poor live in rural areas, we must ensure that these women and girls have access to accurate information and services to decrease hunger and poverty, and make them play a critical role in the success of the Sustainable Development Goals, Vision 2030 and family planning 2020 goals.

Family planning information and services also empower women to plan if and when to have children. This enables them to complete their education, become productive members of the society or take on opportunities to secure their livelihoods, increase their earning power and support their husbands. This strengthens their economic security and the well-being of their families.

Denying women the power and means to control the number and spacing of their children, would deny them of their rights to health, life, and equal opportunity. I hereby call upon the government of Kenya and NGOs to increase the efforts aimed at removing the barriers that hinder access to safe, accurate, high quality, free, acceptable and voluntary family planning services and information among women and girls in rural areas and everywhere.

Michael Okun Oliech is a communication officer at dance4life Kenya, a youth serving Non-Governmental Organization that does sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy and behavior change communication. He has a BA in Development Studies, undergone training on media advocacy, and budget advocacy by Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa- Kenya and Choice for Youth and Sexuality of the Netherlands. He is also a well-known blogger on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Issues, a human rights activist, LGBT rights defender and youth advocate at Network for Adolescents and Youths of Africa. His twitter handle is @mikeokunson.