Childbirth, sex, and abortion all deserve to, and should, be safe. The International Planned Parenthood Federation is making sure that people across the globe have the necessary tools and education to keep everyone’s health safe.
From International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Website
IPPF works in 172 countries to empower the most vulnerable women, men and young people to access life-saving services and programmes, and to live with dignity.
Supported by millions of volunteers and 30,000 staff, IPPF Member Associations provide sexual and reproductive health information, education and services through 65,000 service points. Those services include family planning, abortion, maternal and child health, and STI and HIV treatment, prevention and care.
Every year, our Member Associations help millions of poor and vulnerable people avoid unsafe childbirth, unsafe sex, unsafe abortion, STI-related illnesses and HIV-related stigma and discrimination. And together, we fight for local, national and global policies which recognize a fundamental human right – the right to sexual and reproductive health.
Contraception is the use of temporary, long-term or permanent methods to prevent pregnancy. Condoms are the only available means to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Millions of women, men and young people have no access to contraceptive services. Through lack of knowledge, lack of information, lack of supply and lack of government support, they are unable to determine when or whether they have children, and they are unable to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
One of IPPF’s central commitments is to promote and to provide contraceptive services for all. Universal access to, and informed use of effective contraception is the cornerstone to good sexual and reproductive health.
Some of the greatest inequalities in the world are in levels of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. In some countries, as many as 1 in 7 women who fall pregnant will die.
Desperate poverty, limited contraceptive use, high unintended fertility, substantial HIV prevalence rates, widespread unsafe abortion practice, a dearth of high quality facilities, repressive and discriminatory legislation, gender-based violence and the denial of rights both cause and exacerbate women’s health and safety.
The global drive to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including maternal health, touches on every single aspect of IPPF’s work and is a central Millennium Development goal. Working on many fronts, at many levels, in many countries, the IPPF Secretariat and Member Associations make a major contribution to this common purpose.
Sexual rights are basic human rights. But around the world, they are denied daily to people through violence, abuse and coercion, and through criminalization and discrimination.
IPPF Member Associations constantly deal with the consequences of individuals’ and governments’ failure to recognize sexual rights. IPPF’s belief is that such recognition is imperative. This belief informs every aspect of the Federation’s work.
Every year, 47,000 women die due to unsafe abortion. It is 1 of the 3 leading causes of maternal mortality. IPPF supports a woman’s right to choose and to access safe abortion services.
Highly restrictive laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. Where abortion is permitted on broad legal grounds, it is generally safe, and where it is highly restricted, it is typically unsafe. Additionally, where abortion laws are restricted, the well-off can buy safe services, while the poor resort to dangerous methods. The high costs for treating complications from unsafe abortions force women and their families into even greater poverty.
IPPF works to promote safe and legal abortion services, and advocates for choice. This is based on a conscientious commitment to upholding a woman’s right to decide the outcome of her pregnancy and to eradicating the tragic consequences of unsafe abortion.
All decisions about pregnancy should be voluntary and not coerced. This is central to upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
All humanitarian crises present acute sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges. Of countries worst affected by poor SRH, 9 out of the 10 are in a state of crisis.
An estimated 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict or natural disasters, and 75 to 80% are women, children and adolescents. They are at increased risk of rape, sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion, maternal morbidity and death.
IPPF is at the forefront of developing humanitarian programmes. It is a leader in the field of delivering life-saving services to meet the needs of those whose SRHR is threatened in crisis situations.
Over 40% of IPPF’s resources are devoted to addressing the needs of young people. Under 25s account for 50% of new HIV infections, and girls and young women are the most vulnerable group.
Access to and understanding of contraceptives among young people is limited. Many young pregnant women resort to unsafe abortions. The need for education, information and services for young people is one of IPPF’s most pressing sexual health priorities.
The world is home to the largest generation of young people in history. They are diverse. They have opportunities, but they also face immense obstacles while seeking to improve their lives. Most young people in developing countries live in poverty. Many lack access to clean water, sanitation and food. The situation is perpetuated by illiteracy and limited educational opportunities.
Despite this, young people everywhere are an inexhaustible source of ideas, energy and optimism. Through history, they have driven change and broken away from cycles of discrimination and poverty. They have the potential to build a world that is inclusive and compassionate, for people and for the planet.
IPPF has a longstanding commitment to young people. Young people and adolescents need to be able to make informed decisions. They need support to make considered choices about their own lives, and so that they can become leaders in their communities and the world at large.
At global, regional and national levels, IPPF persuades governments and decision makers to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, to change policy and to fund programmes and service delivery.
Crucially, it also seeks to place the delivery of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services for those that most urgently need them, right at the heart of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) debate.
HIV & AIDS
IPPF is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that a comprehensive response to HIV is situated within a larger sexual and reproductive health framework.
The importance of linking sexual and reproductive health and HIV is widely recognized. The majority of HIV infections are sexually transmitted or are associated with pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. The risk of HIV transmission and acquisition can be further increased due to the presence of certain sexually transmitted infections.
IPPF’s work is a coherent response to HIV and AIDS. It links prevention with treatment, care and support, reduces HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and responds to unique regional and national characteristics of the epidemic.
Gender‑based power inequalities mean that individuals face barriers deciding if, when and with whom to have sex; whether to use contraception; if, when and how many children to have; and how to seek health care.
Social and cultural norms often deny girls and women access to comprehensive information about sexual and reproductive health. They can perpetuate harmful cultural traditions that cause physical and emotional damage. They can deny girls and women the right to make and realise choices about their own bodies and futures. And they can prevent girls and women from accessing healthcare. Girls and women are a very diverse population, but they represent one of the most vulnerable groups in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Transgender people face complex barriers and discrimination as a result of their gender. They may be denied the right to be recognized as a gender different from the sex they were born. They face challenges obtaining employment and participating in public arenas. And health providers are not always accessible or responsive to their concerns. There are others who identify their gender in different ways, and they too face discrimination and challenges achieving good health and realizing their goals.
Boys and men also suffer as a result of gender norms. For instance, cultural definitions of manliness may prevent men and boys from communicating their sexual and reproductive health needs and adopting safer sexual behaviours.
Gender-based inequalities and discrimination deny individuals their sexual rights, routinely resulting in lasting damage to health and emotional well-being. These injustices cannot be allowed to continue.
In the early 1950s, a group of women and men started to campaign vociferously and visibly for women’s rights to control their own fertility.
Family planning as a human right challenged many social conventions. Campaigners faced great hostility to gain acceptance for things that we take for granted today. Some were imprisoned. But they emerged determined to work with different cultures, traditions, laws and religious attitudes to improve the lives of women around the world. And so, at the 3rd International Conference on Planned Parenthood in 1952, 8 national family planning associations founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation. IPPF.
60 years later, the charity is a Federation of 152 Member Associations, working in 172 countries. It runs 65,000 service points worldwide. In 2011, those facilities delivered over 89 million sexual and reproductive health services.
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