OPINIONPeople Daily

Family planning key to women empowerment

Collins Baswony

As Kenya today joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Women’s Day 2017, we must renew our commitment towards forging a better working world — a more gender inclusive world One path towards achieving gender equality in the workplace is investing in family planning services to ensure access to high quality and affordable services.

Access to family planning services helps girls and women to achieve their ambitions. Whether they are in school, in formal or informal employment, women (and their partners) who have the benefit of choosing when to have children, how many and how much time between them (spacing), stand a better chance of achieving their goals.

Studies show that women who plan their children alongside their personal and family goals are able to attain their academic and professional dreams, get higher incomes and participate in social activities in their communities.

American philanthropist Melinda Gates, a prominent family planning advocate, has told her personal family planning story many times. Last year, she wrote in a letter about the role of family planning in helping her and her husband plan their family as they were building their business.

Gates said it was not by coincidence that her three children were born when they were born and exactly three years apart. This can be the story of every Kenyan woman: that they can have a family but still pursue career or business dreams.

But for that story to be complete, Kenyan women need access to family planning services. Sadly, Kenya has a high number of women who want to either stop or delay childbearing but are not using any contraception.

According to the latest data, 20 per cent of married women are in that category. #BeBoldForChange This year’s International Women’s Day, whose theme is #BeBoldForChange, provides an opportunity for Kenya to evaluate and renew its commitment towards ensuring that women who need family planning services can easily access them.

Considering that six out of 10 users of family planning services get them from public health facilities, both the National and County governments must invest invest in the services.

Such investment, especially by County governments, are crucial in educating Kenyans about benefits while dispelling the myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning.

Investing in Family planning is also vital now more than ever before because resources from development partners and international donors are shrinking.

The reinstatement of the “global gag rule” by US President Donald Trump only made the situation worse. For Kenya to contribute to creating a more gender inclusive world, we must make family planning services available to them. —The writer is a communications practitioner working with an international development organisation. —[email protected], twitter: @BwanaCollins

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