Contraception empowers women to lead climate crisis solutions

MSI United States
Jul 18 · 3 min read

Until recently, people in North Luangwa, Zambia, struggled to recover from illegal poaching, increased droughts and flooding in their wildlife reserve.

An aerial view of North Luangwa National Park in Zambia. (Courtesy of Save the Rhino International)

Eighty percent of people on the reserve live on less than $1.25 day, and women’s ability to access contraception was severely limited. Unable to control if or when they had children, women couldn’t hold leadership roles in community-led efforts to stop poaching and conserve valuable resources.

In response to this crisis, we stepped in to help women take control of their own health and lives, which in turn contributes to efforts to improve the health of their environment. Our program in Zambia partners with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), a wildlife conservation agency, to increase community education and support for resource management and contraception in North Luangwa.

An MSI Zambia outreach van driving to remote communities with contraceptive services

We know that communities fare better after environmental catastrophes when women have leadership roles, including those in preparedness and reconstruction. So, we added reproductive health education to FZS’s already-existing programs and worked with traditional leaders to establish outreach sites to provide contraception to women who want it.

In the first two months of work in the region, we reached more than 1,500 clients. When we first began, people had negative misconceptions about contraception — but with dedicated counseling and community outreach, many people in the community, including men, are now supportive.

Until recently, women in North Luangwa were not involved in anti-poaching efforts. Access to contraception has changed that. (Courtesy of Africa Odyssey)
A group of women listen to an MSI Zambia outreach team talk about the reproductive health services they will offer in Nsuluka, Zambia

Our work in North Luangwa shows that meeting women’s need for contraception can support the ecosystems communities depend on. That’s why we joined the Thriving Together Campaign, the first global effort dedicated to removing barriers to women’s reproductive choice as a key component to improve the health of individuals, families, communities and the planet.

As Thriving Together supporter Dr. Jane Goodall said:

“Women everywhere must be able to choose whether to have children, how many children and the spacing between them.”

When women can control their health and lives, they can better contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future for us all.

Her Future

Stories from MSI about women's determination to access family planning and safe abortion care.

MSI United States

Written by

We are part of a global organization working in 37 countries, unified by our unwavering commitment to help every woman have children by choice, not chance.

Her Future

Stories from MSI about women's determination to access family planning and safe abortion care.

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