Mayan women in Guatemala attending International Women’s Day. Photo credit: Author.

Can you imagine living in a place where you had absolutely no choice or control over your body? Can you imagine waiting days to see a doctor or never seeing a doctor once during a pregnancy or even during childbirth?

For most women in the developed world, not having access to doctors or family planning seems ludicrous. Yet this situation is the reality for millions of women around the world who do not have access to family planning, prenatal care or OBGYNs.

In fact, 215 million women around the world do not have access to contraception.  To put things into perspective, this figure represents more than all the women of the United States and Canada combined.

Not having access to contraception leads to many cyclic problems that keep women in poverty and does not allow them to reach their full potential. For instance, in Uganda the average woman bears 8 children in her lifetime.  This makes it almost impossible for women to finish school, support themselves, feed their children and climb the ladder out of a tragic cycle of deep poverty.

Many women would like to have access to family planning but simply don’t for a number of reasons. It may be cultural, religious or financial.  Some women aren’t even aware that they have a choice because they don’t even know that contraception exists.  Women around the world face many barriers to reproductive health care that women in the developed world would not accept. It isn’t fair that these women do not have the choice to make their own decisions about their bodies. Choices that could make them live a happier, healthier life for them and their families.

Pathfinder International, one of the leading organizations advocating for women’s reproductive rights, has come up with a campaign to change this inequity.  For over 50 years, Pathfinder has changed and saved the lives of women and their families throughout the developing world by increasing access to essential reproductive health services, including contraceptives.  Two months ago, Pathfinder took their cause to the Internet by launching a tongue and cheek video properly titled “No Joke. Choice Matters”.

The video has been an internet sensation highlighting in a humorous albeit serious way that not having choice and control over a woman’s reproductive health is literally no joke.  Over 10,000 people have viewed the video since its inception.  It is Pathfinder’s hope that this video will continue to be shared and educate others on why choice matters and how we can give these woman around the world a voice in the matter.

Please view the video and spread the word. Wouldn’t you want to have a choice over your own body?

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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