I see this often: women and girls are too embarrassed to ask sensitive, detailed questions about what is happening to their own bodies. This is true for women and girls of every age. It doesn't help that only 22 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex education and only 19 states require that, if provided, sex education must be medically, factually or technically accurate. Just to shock you with another fact - according to the Guttmacher Institute, half of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. So, 3.4M pregnancies are entirely unplanned every year.
This is why WomanCare Global is launching an exciting, purposefully provocative educational campaign with actress/activist Jessica Biel. "If You Don't Tell Them, Then Who Will?" is a campaign focused on encouraging women and girls to get educated about their bodies.
WomanCare Global's historical platform has been focused on developing markets and helping women in the poorest countries get access to safe, affordable, sustainable reproductive healthcare products. We focused on this because there are 225 million women who have an unmet need for contraception. As globally conscious individuals, we know that an answer to poverty elimination is allowing women to choose when and if and how often they have children. We know that women in developing countries want smaller family sizes so their children can have a better quality of life than they experienced. Contraception allows women to have children on their own terms - when they are ready. And by doing so, this ensures that every child is a wanted child - that no child is born at the expense of their mother and that, one day, motherhood will never come at the expense of childhood. I am a strong believer in access to education and information so that women can make informed choices. By providing contraceptive choice, women's lives are dramatically improved which has a positive impact on our global economy.
This brings me to my main point: knowing what I know about women in developing markets, I was surprised that so many women and girls in the US experience issues relating to the lack of education and or knowledge of where to go for right information about how their bodies work. This obviously impacts their choices or, worse, paralyzes them from making choices at all.
So there IS an unmet need here in the United States of America for more easily accessible and factually reliable information that will allow women and girls to make more informed choices.
Women and girls need to feel comfortable and confident about how their bodies work so they can make the right choice for themselves. Lack of education, misinformation and social stigmas have all led to confusion and uncertainty about sex, contraception and the female body. Open conversation and reproductive health education from an early age, and supported throughout a lifetime, can help turn uninformed decisions into powerful, informed choices.
We want to launch a conversation... to launch a million conversations that destroy the notion that women's health is a taboo topic. nothing about our bodies is too sensitive to talk about anytime. We want this campaign to speak to multi-generational women and men, to help remove the stigma attached to these subjects and talking about them with each other and our partners. Our hope is that through our willingness to be wide open, and a bit provocative, we will encourage women to be proactive participants in their own education.
Let's face it, being a woman is serious enough, so it is our hope that we will be a new lighthearted voice of encouragement amongst the powerful voices that already exist for women and girls. We want to help create an environment in which talking about our vaginas is not a sacred conversation behind closed doors, an internet search or an episode on reality television. We want vaginas to be on the agenda in everyday conversations with NO SHAME ALLOWED.