To celebrate World Contraception Day (26th September), MEP Biljana Borzan and MEP Maria Gabriela Zoana co-hosted the European Parliament launch of ‘Limited Access: Europe’s Contraception Deficit’, a White Paper on Access to Contraception in Europe.
The White Paper was developed following a survey of 46 European countries titled “Contraception Atlas” covering three areas: reimbursement of contraceptive supplies, access to family planning counselling and access to online information on modern contraception methods. Based on the conclusions of this research, the group of experts supported by EPF launched the White Paper, which is a call to action and provides recommendations on how to improve access to contraception in Europe.
YouAct Coordinator, Adriana Pereira, was invited to make a speech on behalf of Youth in Europe and address the importance of access to contraceptives for young people. Adriana focused on the importance of addressing affordability as a main obstacle for young people accessing and using contraceptives, as well as using new technologies to address the knowledge gap of contraceptives among young people. She proposed that technology this should be incorporated into comprehensive sexuality education and government supported websites with accurate and evidence-based information as a way to break misconceptions, perceptions and myths surrounding contraceptives.
EPF Secretary, Neil Datta, gave his insights on ‘the need for increased access to contraceptives as well as more thorough sexual education within the European region, including EU member states. He stressed that the issue has many factors, including taboo surrounding the topic stemming from myths and cultural attitudes towards sexuality, government reimbursement programmes of contraceptives, and even whether or not a government provides accurate and accessible information about family planning online’.
For more information about Contraception Atlas and White Paper;
Information on the Contraception Atlas 2018
Access the press release of the White Paper
To read full speech of YouAct’s Coordinator see below (under the photos).
Thank you for hosting and launching the White Paper at this wonderful event and warm welcome given from the MEPs; Biljana Borzan & Maria Gabriela Zoana.
I want to give a special thank you to Marina Davidashvili at EPF, for welcoming me as the new member of the Expert Group of the Contraception Atlas and being supportive during my transition period as coordinator of YouAct that started in March 2018.
Although I am standing here today, YouAct’s contribution to the Contraception Atlas would not have been possible without my predecessor, Ana Rizescu, who contributed to the methodology and ensuring a youth perspective is always taken into account. As well as the Steering Committee, and members’of YouAct who are here today to support World Contraception Day and the Launch of the White Paper.
My mother always taught me to give something back to the community. As a teenager, I would spend my summers in Portugal. I always did some form of community and volunteer work and One summer I tagged along with my godmother who at the time taught underprivileged teens. Many of who had not finished their secondary education. Many had dropped out of school and returned to finish their exams.
We joined the local youth club for the day and helped with social activities and games in a safe environment. Being young myself I blended right in and sat among the other young people where we got to know one another. One of the girls I met was of cape-verdean origin. She had brought 2 children with her. She was holding one child on 1 hand, a baby on her hip while expecting a child. I thought to myself; that’s her baby sisters for sure?! Right?
I was wrong – she was expecting her 3rd child. She had to dropped out of school and relied on her partner for income whiling living with her parents because they couldn’t afford to have a place of their own.
We were both 20 years old. We spoke the same language but apart from that, our worlds could not have been more different. I couldn’t stop wondering whether if she had had access to contraception would her life have been different? Could she afford contraceptives considering her economic situation? Did she have access to reliable and accurate information about contraceptives?
The answers to these questions i will never know – but this moment struck a chord within me. It carved a path where I was able to make choices for myself. Educate myself so that I could help others become informed on contraceptives, particularly young people.
One of the major barriers to contraceptive use among young people is affordability. Unfortunately This is still a reality in Europe as many countries lack reimbursement schemes which allow for a full range of contraceptive choices, particularly countries where schemes require people to be married in order to access contraceptives and family planning services. Lack of certain contraceptive supplies in some countries (availability of commodities). For example, there is no implant or plaster.
Regardless of whether young people use contraceptives or not many misconceptions and myths still exist. So…Young people look towards online information more and more each day to answer their WHAT AND HOW questions about contraceptives. Online information on contraceptive is fast and easy. This is a reality for young people. However, online sources are not always reliable which is why we need government supported online information on all types of contraceptives and how to get them. WE also need to make sure we educate young people on where to look for accurate information, we need to refer them to the correct sources, in CSE classes for example.
I would like to acknowledge what have already been achieved by many countries; youth friendly-serivces! They exist but we need to promote them better and ensure confidentiality, so that young people feel welcome to go and have a discussion. Ask yourself- what is a consultation in a family planning center like? It doesn’t have to be a gynaecological consultation, it can be a discussion first, but many young people don’t know this and are afraid to go. Also, they are afraid to say they had sex, because healthcare professionals have certain stereotypes towards them and their “promiscuity”. We (as a society), need to get over these views and taboos and embrace the idea that young people are sexual beings and have the right to information, education and services regarding their sexual and reproductive lives.
Hopefully, the launch of this White Paper we can change the status quo and improve the lives of Europeans and help people make choices, in their own right. Contraception impacts us all at one time or another. It’s important to have access to a wide array of contraceptives that adapt to each phase of your life.