The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2021 World Population Report condemned this situation by saying that it has no say in the bodies of millions of girls and women. Presenting the report in New York on Wednesday, UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said the current situation was alarming.
The report, which covers 57 poor or less developed countries, found that only 55 percent of girls and women in those countries can make independent decisions about their health, family planning and sex life. The 57 countries where the data were collected are located in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The situation of women between the ages of 15 and 49 is presented in the report.
“Women’s ability to control their bodies is an indicator of how much control they have in other areas of their lives,” the report said, noting that only structural, social and economic inequalities between the sexes can be eliminated.
The authors of the report noted that in order to meet these conditions, “men must become allies who respect women’s decisions.”
There are regional differences
Women’s ability to have a say about their bodies and sexual lives varies by region and country. In Latin America and eastern and southeastern Asia, about 76 percent of girls and women can make decisions about health, family planning, and sexuality, while in sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion is reduced by about half.
In contrast, less than 10 percent of women in Mali, Niger and Senegal can decide on their own bodies.
According to the report, only 53 percent of women in Ethiopia can abstain from sex, and 94 percent can decide to use contraception alone or with their spouses.
The report notes that women with the freedom to make independent decisions tend to benefit from health care, and that the proportion of women who determine their sexual lives independently has decreased.
Ensuring gender equality is among the 17 targets set by UNFPA in 2015. The organization argues that all women should have access to sexual and reproductive health and have a voice in family planning.