Throughout the Commission on the Status of Women, I have sat through panels on controversial topic after controversial topic. Oftentimes, the mentality during these discussions is my way or the highway. The panelists will take a clear side and insist that any other viewpoint must be false, backward and harmful to women and their rights.
So it was a breath of fresh air to attend a session where the topic was presented as an option, rather than a necessary choice.
The women of WOOMB International, the World Organisation of Ovulation Method Billings, spoke on natural family planning—not as the “right way” to have or avoid having children, but as a natural alternative to birth control or other contraceptives.
Women can use the Billings Ovulation Method to chart their menstrual cycle to calculate when they are or are not fertile during the month. This method allows a woman to plan when to have children without the usage of traditional contraceptives.
This method is extremely helpful for families who have a moral objection to birth control or who do not wish to artificially prevent pregnancy through contraceptives, which can interfere with the body’s natural hormonal processes.
The focus of this discussion was that of empowerment. The usage of this method keeps the full power of fertility in the hands of the woman. And because this process requires more cooperation between husband and wife, it can also improve the marital relationship, according to Allison Dreyer, a WOOMB International representative.
Dreyer stated: “When a man learns to respect his wife’s body, he learns to respect his wife as a person.”
Knowledge is power, and education about the natural processes of the body empowers women by giving them the tools to take control of their own fertility.
This helps not only adult women, but young girls who are just learning how their bodies work.
When girls go through puberty, their self-esteem and confidence often drop, according to Allison Dreyer. But when these young girls are taught how their bodies work, they can feel empowered again.
Traditional birth control is an easy “choice”—doctors are willing to prescribe it for a number of medical issues. But many women remain uninformed of both the risks of birth control and the alternative options available.
Empowerment is about more than just a choice; it’s about having access to information and education so that women can make an informed decision regarding their bodies. While birth control pills are the traditional method of contraception, other options are available—and valuable.
Women deserve to know what choices they have and what their options are, especially when it comes to birth control, because an informed decision is what constitutes real empowerment.