2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, and during the preparations that led up to it, saw a resurgence of the ‘population control’ discourse, and a strong push towards increased access to contraception. Although the demographic transition has been considered successful in the Asia-Pacific region, generally, most of the reduction in numbers, however, come from China, and other East Asian countries. China and India—the most populous countries—have achieved significant reduction of fertility rates, but this has become synonymous with coercive contraceptive policies and programmes. As such, the focus on gender equality, ensuring choices for women and men in order to regulate fertility, has been skewed in favour of state demands and policies.
Due to the sheer size of the region, overall percentages mask the numbers of women affected. More than half of all women of reproductive age want to avoid a pregnancy — and this constitutes 646 million women. Of this 20% of women, who do not want to become pregnant, either use no contraceptive methods or use traditional methods which are ineffective. These women account for 84% of all unintended pregnancies in the region. This brief is part of ARROW’s State of the Region Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+25), developed as a result of monitoring of 25 years of implementing the ICPD programme of Action in the region by ARROW and our partners.