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For the women and girls affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice—whether or not to become pregnant—is no choice at all


COLOMBO, 30 March 2022 — Nearly half of all pregnancies, totalling 121 million each year throughout the world, are unintended.  In Sri Lanka, about 360,000 women become pregnant every year. One out of three of these pregnancies are estimated to be unintended pregnancies. The unmet need for family planning is also at 7.3% (Demographic and Health Survey, 2016), a figure that may have been further augmented due to the pandemic. Public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic have given rise to an increase in unintended pregnancies, as access to sexual and reproductive health services are disrupted.


As such, this year’s UNFPA flagship State of the World Population Report titled “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy,” focuses on this issue.


In line with the global launch of the Report, UNFPA Representative to Sri Lanka, Kunle Adeniyi officially presented the groundbreaking report to the Minister of Health, Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella.


The report shows how easily the most fundamental rights of women and girls are pushed to the backburner in times of crises. It calls on decision-makers and health systems to prioritize the prevention of unintended pregnancies by improving the accessibility, acceptability and quality of sexual and reproductive health care services and information. As the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA will continue working with the Government of Sri Lanka in enhancing these services which will empower women and girls to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives.


Five Key Facts from the 2022 SoWP REPORT:

1. Every year, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended.

  • Between 2015 and 2019, there were roughly 121 million unintended pregnancies globally each year.

2. Globally, an estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception.

  • In 47 countries, about 40 per cent of sexually active women were not using any contraceptive methods to avoid pregnancy.

3. Nearly a quarter of all women are not able to say no to sex (where data is available).

  • Contraceptive use is 53 per cent lower among women who have experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Studies show that rape-related pregnancies are equally or more likely to occur than pregnancies from consensual sex.

4. Over 60 per cent of unintended pregnancies, and almost 30 per cent of all pregnancies, end in abortion.

  • 45 per cent of all abortions performed globally are unsafe.
  • Unsafe abortions hospitalize about 7 million women a year globally and cause 5 to 13 per cent of all maternal deaths, one of the leading causes of maternal death.
  • In developing countries, unsafe abortions cost an estimated $553 million per year in treatment costs alone.

5. In humanitarian emergencies, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, many women lose access to contraception and/or experience sexual violence.

  • Some studies have shown that over 20 per cent of refugee women and girls will face sexual violence.
  • An estimated 4.8 million unintended pregnancies will occur in Afghanistan by 2025 as a result of health system disruptions and gender inequality.
  • In the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the estimated disruption in contraceptive supplies and services lasted an average of 3.6 months, leading to as many as 1.4 million unintended pregnancies.