European Parliamentary Forum Unveils MENA Contraception Policy Atlas in Cairo

CAIRO, Sept. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) today showcased the inaugural Middle East & North Africa Contraception Policy Atlas in Cairo. Findings from this unparalleled advocacy and policy tool, which provides essential information on the status of contraception in the region, were unveiled by Neil Datta, EPF’s Executive Director, during the panel session “Reproductive Health for All”.

Press Conference

The MENA Contraception Policy Atlas offers a comprehensive analysis of 21 countries on aspects such as political leadership, access to contraceptives, national and international policies, and funding.  The Atlas reveals that while most countries have taken concrete steps at the policy level to ensure access to reproductive health for everyone, more needs to be done to further strengthen the mechanisms in place. This launch holds particular significance as, per the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 60.5% of married Arab women aspire to avoid short-term pregnancies, yet 40% of them do not use safe and effective family planning methods.

Key MENA Highlights:

  • 52% of countries have initiated policy measures to guarantee universal access to contraception. However, barriers, including misinformation and financial constraints, persist.
  • 14% provide governmental websites on contraception.
  • 62% have made pledges to family planning through global organizations and networks.
  • A mere 6 out of 21 countries recognize the right to determine family size, timing, and spacing of children.

Dr. Abla El Alfy, the founder and chairman of the Egyptian Members Association of RCPCH (Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health), remarked, “The Atlas is not just a collection of data; it’s a call to action. It underscores the pressing need for nations to prioritize reproductive health rights. We must bridge the gap between policy and practice to ensure that women everywhere are empowered to make the right choices for their reproductive health, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for all.”

The Broader Impact:

Lack of access to family planning and contraception methods is a significant barrier to achieving gender equality, as outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It not only affects women’s health but also hinders their socio-economic empowerment. When women can’t control their reproductive rights, they often face challenges in pursuing education, entering the workforce, and contributing to the economy. This lack of access also has ripple effects on economic productivity, as nations miss out on the potential contributions of half their population.

The Atlas is designed to influence healthcare policies by actively engaging stakeholders, including policymakers, civil society, media, and the public. It underscores the tangible impact of policies, urging nations to enhance SRHR services for the betterment of their citizens.

The global launch of the Contraception Policy Atlas 2023 took place at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on 18 July 2023. More regional and national launches are planned to further disseminate Atlas’s essential insights. The interactive website can be found here:

This initiative is powered by the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) in partnership with the Arab Institute for Women (AiW), who vetted the data. The Atlas was produced in partnership with a group of experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights (see Atlas front page) who helped design the questions and structures. EPF benefitted from the financial support of Organon to undertake original and independent research which is presented in the Atlas. The scope and the content of the Atlas is the sole responsibility of EPF. Data was collected at the beginning of 2022 and validated by the AiW. In May 2023, a consultative process among key stakeholders ensured the inclusion of national views from the partners and contributed towards the improvement and ownership of outcomes.

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