The United Nations Population Fund says denying women reproductive rights “not only harms individuals but also puts a drag on economies and stifle countries’ development.”

UNFPA executive director Dr. Natalia Kanem issued a statement to mark International Women’s Day, insisting protecting women’s reproductive rights is a pathway to more equal world.

“Without addressing the discrimination that these women face in both private and public spheres, many of them will remain caught in a vicious cycle of poverty, repeated pregnancies, diminished capabilities, unfulfilled human rights and unrealized potential.”

Over 200 million women—many of them poor and living in rural and remote parts of the world—lack access to voluntary family planning methods.

Some 800 pregnant women—many in fragile socio-economic situations—die each day from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Access to services is limited for rural and indigenous women, undermining their ability to exercise their reproductive rights. In other settings, they are non-existent.

“Making reproductive health care universally accessible would not only help fulfil a poor, rural woman’s reproductive rights; it would also enable her to stay healthy, get an education and participate in all facets of life, including economic life,” said Kanem.

“These benefits accrue to her, her family and her country.”