The largest percentage of our population is comprised of peasant farmers with little information concerning reproductive health control methods.
This has seen our population quadruple during the last 50 years. Today the Rwandan population is at over 10 million on 26,000 square kilometers of land, and if the fertility rates are not slowed, the population will increase beyond manageable limits.
Increase of the population without expansion of resources is a burden to every living thing. It is important therefore, to keep family planning issues at the forefront for local, national, regional, and international health and development discussions, initiatives, and programs.
Awareness about declining resources for family planning initiatives, programs, and services has increased in the last few years, with new initiatives for repositioning family planning and contraceptive security as observed in many developed countries and regions.
Lack of knowledge, access problems and side effect fears are among the obstacles that limits the women’s use of hormonal contraceptives such as the birth control pill and hormone implants.
Some young women are reluctant to use modern contraceptive methods because they perceive them as intended for married women.
Some fear that health clinic staff would treat them poorly or not help them.
Some young women seem to have an easier time accessing condoms, but many see them as methods for preventing sexually transmitted infection, rather than as a contraceptive, and associate them with disease and promiscuity.
Also to mention is that many of the women rely on traditional birth control methods such as charms and herbs.
There are some women in our developing countries, who consider abortion to be an option in the case of unintended pregnancy, a methodology that is more dangerous than using birth control pills.
Lack of knowledge and access, may be the easiest problems to address, efforts must also be applied to the whole Rwandese community to help address negative perceptions of contraceptive use and to encourage older women as well as younger women to consider using modern methods of birth control.
Most of these interventions also need to be youth friendly in that they should help young women, build the life skills they need to take control of their reproductive health.
Worth to mention, is that reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.
Control of over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. It is linked to the women’s health and social status, as well as the powerful social structures of religion, state control and private profits that people can make.
Women know that childbearing is a social, not a purely personal phenomenon. We have to understand clearly that increase of the population can easily exert considerable pressure on resources with in a period of time.
Traditional norms surrounding the behaviour of women such as gender inequality, limited socio-economic standing, low literacy rates, early marriage during adolescence, and high fertility, limit women’s ability to act in their own interest and compromise access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services.
Longstanding, gender norms that have been put in place by the Rwandan government, greatly influence healthcare policy and investments and ultimately increase access to information and services.
Previously and in many countries, men control decisions regarding sexual relations, contraception, and HIV prevention.
However, the reproductive health needs of men may not necessarily correspond with the needs of women.
Lack of gender sensitive reproductive health policies, adversely affects access to information and services for women.
Policy actions such as legislation, enforcement provisions, institutional arrangements, and dedicated resources can strengthen women’s rights, limit traditional harmful practices, improve women’s opportunities to stay in school and participate in the workforce.
Today the government of Rwanda has set up policies that include the development and enforcement of gender positive policies governing minimum age at marriage, legal age of consent, marital property, and physical integrity.
Improvements in reproductive health have consequences at the individual, family, and household levels. Reproductive health increases the human capital of women who directly contribute to socioeconomic development.
Indirectly, reproductive health increases the human capital of children by keeping their mothers alive.
Fewer births slow population growth, which relieves some pressure on natural resources and overstretched public services.
Safe, effective, and affordable reproductive healthcare provides women with the opportunity to enjoy both non-reproductive and reproductive roles in the society, thereby contributing directly to socioeconomic development through increased income.