In 1961 oral contraceptives became a part of the NHS, and reproductive choice became a reality for women.
According to a 2012 survey, women put as much as 25.9 hours of unpaid domestic labour in a week. This is in addition to a whole range on non-indexable jobs like providing psychic care to the employed and non workers within the household. Anyone who has to soothe a child after a hard day at work will know the mental toll of such non material tasks.
Women empowerment isn’t exclusive to the home or the workplace, but is inclusive of the experiences of both. More than three-quarters of the workers in the 10 biggest low wage job categories are women. Most countries have stringent maternity leaves and 42% percent of the working population has paid personal leave.
This brings us to the question- how are women supposed to balance the unpaid labour in the home with full-time labour in the workplace, without getting an opportunity to plan out their careers and economic conditions?
Deciding if and when one wants to have children automatically allows women to control who she marries and when. If social and economic stability are means to empower women, then reproductive choice is the most crucial aspect of it all.
SO, WHY DO WOMEN NOT OPT FOR CONTRACEPTION?
1. LACK OF ACCESS
We are talking about a nation where the film industry is still coming to terms with the possibility of women being not sexual objects but sexual beings with existing desires. Here, the idea that a woman will be fully made aware of all the contraceptive options she has, and given the chance to choose what will be best for her is near about non-existent.
Making women aware of the workings, intricacies, regulations and possibilities of contraception is the first step towards winning reproductive rights for women and pushing a more empowered future for them.
Long term sterilisation is expensive. Free contraception is not available in most countries, and the over all cost of contraception is high. Over the counter or GP recommended pills are the most ideal as long as they are affordable. This is where pills like Suvidha, made in a range that everyday women can afford by pharmas like eskag are playing a big role in adding to women empowerment.
3. ACTUAL AND PERCEIVED SIDE EFFECTS.
Most health surveys cite ‘side effects and health concerns’ as the burning reason for women to avoid contraception. This is because most contraceptives DO have side effects. The fact remains that it is taken for granted that a contraceptive can be unpleasant to use and women who need it will still opt for it. (Sameofcourse cannot be said about condoms and male contraceptives. The moment they are unpleasant men would get rid of them- because they don’t have to carry a living being inside them for nine-whole months as a result).
Making contraceptives that don’t have a whole list of side effects is the most important way one could empower women. Oral contraceptives today have come a long way from the hormone hits of the old. In time therefore, maybe the change in the perception of female contraception can ultimately empower women to make choices for themselves and their family.