Medicamentalia Contraceptives

Medicamentalia Contraceptives

Welcome to this special issue of Medicamentalia Contraceptives!

Medicamentalia-Contraceptives is an international journalistic investigation by Civio on birth control access and barriers. We have combined data journalism with on-the-ground reporting to tell the stories of the women behind the statistics, to gather their opinions about birth control access and their freedom to decide about their bodies. This instalment follows in the footsteps of two predecessors, focused on access to essential medicines and access to vaccines around the world.


One in ten women around the world doesn’t use the contraceptives she needs. We analyse how women exercise this right and how side effects, misogyny, beliefs, and outsiders interfere with it.

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The three main monotheistic religions, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam, all limit the right of women to decide about their pregnancies. But within each there are schisms and different interpretations and levels of acceptance.

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Key findings

  • Worldwide, the most popular birth control methods are female sterilisation (30.1%), IUDs (21.5%) and the pill (13.9%). Male sterilisation, on the other hand, is a tiny fraction (3.7%).
  • Family planning, or choosing if you want to have children, and when and how, is a right. But 12 of every 100 sexually active women aged 15 to 49 cannot exercise it.
  • There are unmet needs in all kinds of countries, from the United States to Albania, but in the least developed countries, the rate is double the global average.
  • The main barriers to contraceptive use are fear of side effects and opposition from women themselves and people in their communities.
  • Religion continues to be a barrier to birth control. It can interfere with a gynecological consultation in Israel, in a purchase in a pharmacy in Mexico or in an imam-supervised sex education class in Senegal.
  • The three main monotheistic religions permit contraceptives in some cases, but a woman’s freedom of choice comes second to mens’ interpretation of scripture.
  • Women from around the world tell us about the contraceptive methods they know, the ones they use and the factors that have shaped their choices.

Funding – credit – methodology

This project is funded by Journalism Grants, which is financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As with previous publications, neither organisation has influenced in any way our reporting nor the content of this project. Nor have they had advance review of the project.

The database and all materials produced by the project (i.e. not including photographies provided by third parties) are Creative Commons (CC BY). You may use anything that you need or that interests you on one condition: you must attribute and link to Medicamentalia. We also ask that you tell us about it! We would love to hear from you.

Read more about the methodology on Medicamentalia Contraceptive website.

Featured image credit: Malyka Diagana

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2 thoughts on “Medicamentalia Contraceptives”

  1. The reference to the upcoming referendum on removing the 8th amendment to the constitution (banning abortion in all except extreme circumstances) should be on the country data for Ireland, not the United Kingdom!