Access to Contraception Helps Girls in Poor Countries Get More Education

Someone send this article to the Catholic Church and evangelical pastors everywhere: By demonizing contraception and trying to block its availability, religious groups are making it that much harder for women to get educated.

An article in the Economist focuses on a research paper that looked at the differences between girls in Malaysia who had access to birth control and those who didn’t.

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The girls in places with contraceptives stayed in school six months longer, or about a year longer if they were born after the [family planning] programmes began. Similar effects have been seen in developing countries that have specifically aimed to increase school attendance. But no big changes in school policies accompanied the family-planning programmes. Nor was the extra schooling because these girls had fewer younger siblings. So the boost in school attendance seems linked to the availability of contraception — for some reason it may have made parents see the benefits of education.

In poor countries, more than anywhere else, making sure girls are able to control their own bodies and not get pregnant when they don’t want to be is a way to make sure they’re achieving their full potential. That’s important anywhere, of course, but in nations where quality education is hard enough to come by, giving students every opportunity to complete their schooling is a big deal.

It’s another reason Mother Teresa, with her opposition to contraception in the poverty-stricken city of Calcutta, was no saint.

(Image via Lano Lan / Shutterstock.com)

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