Recently, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) flagship State of World Population Report 2022 titled “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy” was launched.


Findings of the report

  • There are around 121 million or 12.1 crore unintended (unplanned or unwanted) pregnancies across the world every year, and one in every seven of these occur in India.
  • The number of unintended pregnancies around the world accounted for 48% of all pregnancies. 61% of the unplanned pregnancies ended in abortion. In Other words “almost 30% of all pregnancies, end in abortion”. What is also concerning is that these abortions are unsafe, putting women and young girls at unnecessary risk.
  • The report pointed out that not all teenage deliveries across the globe result from unintended pregnancies. Majority of births by girls aged under 18 years took place within marriage, suggesting that many of those pregnancies could be classified as intended.
  • The report stated that 13% of women in developing countries begin childbearing before they turn 18. 75% of them have their first child at the age of 14 and the second before turning 20. Moreover, 40% of those who give birth twice go on to have a third child before turning 20.
  • Studies estimated that more than 20% of displaced women worldwide experience sexual violence.
  • The COVID-19 crisis has also hugely disrupted healthcare and contraceptive supplies, leading to up to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies in the first year of the pandemic alone.
  • Globally, an estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe, modern methods of contraception, and where data is available, nearly a quarter of all women are not able to say no to sex.


India specific findings

  • Studies from India indicate that unintended pregnancy is associated with lower maternal healthcare utilisation and poorer infant and maternal health outcomes.
  • India’s key priority now is to address the need for family planning/contraceptives and improve access to safe abortions. It suggested that there is a need to invest in research to better understand “the drivers and impacts of unintended pregnancy”.
  • A total of 23.3% women aged 20-24 years were married before the age of 18, according to the data from India’s fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).
  • The report mentioned that “India has made major inroads in terms of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The population is stabilising, the number of preventable maternal deaths has reduced, and there is increased uptake of reversible and safe modern methods for family planning”.


About United Nations Population Fund –

  • UNFPA (formerly the United Nations Fund for Population Activities) is formally named the United Nations Population Fund. The organisation was created in 1969, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
  • Their work involves the improvement of reproductive health; including creation of national strategies and protocols, and birth control by providing supplies and services. The organisation has recently been known for its worldwide campaign against child marriage, obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation.
  • The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) establishes its mandate. UNFPA is not supported by the UN budget, instead, it is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, foundations and individuals.
  • UNFPA works directly to tackle Sustainable Development Goals on health (SDG3), education (SDG4) and gender equality (SDG5).
  • The agency began operations in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities under the administration of the United Nations Development Fund. In 1971 it was placed under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly. Its name was changed into United Nations Population Fund in 1987.