Sexual and reproductive health

CARE International aims to increase the fulfillment of 30 million women’s right to sexual and reproductive health by 2030.

The importance of access to sexual and reproductive health 

Millions of women live in rural areas with limited access to healthcare. Even if a woman is fortunate enough to have the power and means to seek medical services, she may find the nearest facility lacks basic supplies and properly trained staff in terms of providing culturally appropriate care. 

Power dynamics and unequal social and gender norms constrain women and girls’ ability to access and use family planning, while healthcare workforce shortages globally deprive many of access to skilled care. The increasing number of humanitarian crises and situations of chronic instability makes such services even harder to reach, and women and girls still struggle to be heard. 

What is CARE International doing to increase access to sexual and reproductive health?  

CARE International believes that the realization of the right to health cannot be achieved through direct services alone. Large-scale and sustainable change requires that we address underlying and systemic factors, including gender inequality, policy barriers, and power imbalances that have an impact on health.  

We work with community leaders, women, and health workers to understand and address the reasons for high maternal death rates. We challenge social and gender norms so women can make decisions for their own health and well-being. 

CARE International aims to increase the fulfillment of 30 million women's right to sexual and reproductive health by 2030. This will include increasing access to quality health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights services in humanitarian and fragile settings to support more robust resilience and sustainability over the long term.  

A young woman sits on the ground and writes on a large sheet of white paper in black marker. A few other young women sit on either side of her, watching intently as she writes.

Girls participate in an IMAGINE Girls’ Collective session. Led by trained female facilitators from the region, these important platforms ensure married and unmarried adolescent girls’ social support and access to information.

As a rights-based organization, our programming and advocacy affirm and support girls’ and women’s right to safe childbirth, reproductive self-determination, and bodily integrity. We work to reduce maternal mortality, increase healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, and the elimination of discrimination and violence. 

During times of natural disasters and conflict, women and girls are exposed to an increased risk of sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies, and overall lack of control over the situation. Our approach ensures we can quickly respond to emergencies whilst building and strengthening the resilience of the health system in fragile settings to support communities when the situation stabilizes. 

Across the world, CARE International is improving the health and well-being of women, children, and families by changing inequitable gender and social norms and empowering women, increasing the coverage, quality, effectiveness, responsiveness, and equity of health services, and expanding and amplifying women’s voices, participation, and influence in society. 

Married adolescents, for example, are often neglected by development and health programs, which tend to focus on either preventing child marriage or meeting the reproductive health needs of adult women. CARE International’s IMAGINE program is addressing this gap by testing a comprehensive adolescent empowerment package aimed at building married girls’ capacity and agency to make decisions about their lives. Activities are designed to inform and equip girls while engaging families and communities and influencing systems to create a better environment for girls to exercise their rights and make decisions about their health and lives.