Young couple Vietnam


One of the simplest ways to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights is to provide access to effective contraception. Rutgers is concerned by the difficulty faced by many women and young people in accessing contraceptives that can help them choose when to become pregnant, and in some cases can protect them from sexually transmitted infections including HIV. We are committed to making contraception available to everyone.

Staggering numbers

Every year there are an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries to women whose contraception has failed or who wanted to use contraception but could not access it.

This results in 30 million unplanned births, 40 million abortions and 10 million miscarriages. Over 100,000 of these women die.

Rutgers advocates for increased funding for contraception in developing countries, but to meet everyone’s needs expenditure needs to be doubled.


contraceptive pills

Slow improvement 

Use of modern methods of contraception by married women has been rising in Africa, but rates there are still well below the rest of the world. Even the region of fastest recent increase on the continent, Eastern Africa with an estimated 27%, is way behind the world’s next highest, South East Asia at 56%. Young people and women who are not married find it even harder to access contraception.

Increased choice

Rutgers supports the greater distribution of contraception, including increasing access to the female condom. With our partners in the Universal Access to Female Condoms Programme we promote the direct distribution of female condoms in Cameroon, Mozambique and Nigeria, and advocate to remove barriers to access elsewhere.

If it was not for the female condom, I would have had several unplanned pregnancies. This is because my fiancé has never accepted the male condom, and I don’t like using the other artificial family planning methods.

Social worker and female condom user in Cameroon

Making contraception work

The other thing we can do is to give people the skills to negotiate what they want, which we do through comprehensive sexuality education. This can help people to:

  • anticipate sexual contact and be prepared
  • plan their contraception
  • discuss contraception with their partner
  • use the contraceptive effectively
  • refuse sex if there is no contraception or it is faulty

Rutgers and contraception

One of our founders, Johannes Rutgers, was a family doctor who offered counselling on birth control as early as 1892. Together with Aletta Jacobs, the first female physician in the Netherlands, Rutgers was a pioneer in the field of sexuality and contraceptives. He was secretary of the New Malthusian Union (Nieuwe Malthusiaanse Bond in Dutch), established in 1881 in the Netherlands to promote birth control. Rutgers still believes in the power of contraception to improve people’s lives.

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