The right to determine the number and spacing of one’s children is a fundamental right and is also enshrined in the Guatemalan Constitution. The possibility of having a smaller family with well-spaced births has both direct and indirect effects on nutrition and the social development of children less than five years of age. High birth rates contribute to large total family size and closely spaced births, and are an indirect contributor to chronic malnutrition. The family planning component of the program is integrated into all of our training activities. Nearly one third of married, indigenous women of reproductive age have a self-reported, unmet need for contraception.
The percentage of families who use family planning methods doubled in the communities where we provided training. When families can determine the number and spacing of their children, the youngest and most vulnerable in the family have greater access to good nutrition. Mothers are healthier and have more control over their own lives, thereby increasing their autonomy through the power of decision-making.