Subject Exploration

  • Are you creating a new system, or adapting or intervening with an existing one?

Through the daily explorations I learned that I was exploring an existing system. New readings for seminar class helped me to redefine my topic. I learned that access to  birth control  advances women’s economic empowerment.   The availability of contraceptives had an enormous impact on the western world and scientists wonder if it could have the same impact on developing countries.


  • What is the purpose of this system?  Who and what will be impacted?  How will they be impacted?  

According to Women in the world article 222 million women don’t have access to birth control. My idea for the art project is to create a series of photographs that would bring awareness to the subject. I am not much of a designer so designing a system seems like an impossible task for me unless I’m treating the system as an art project. Ideally  this social campaign would impact women without the access to birth-control.

  • How does this system relate to your research question?

The system relates to my research question as it expands on the topic of birth control and social impact it has.


System Map


  • What is your research question?

The topic is : Access to birth control and economic impact it has upon women in developing countries.

To what extent does birth control advance women’s economic empowerment and what’s the role of globalization in it ?

  • What the system is you’re designing around, and what is your point of intervention?  (Are you creating a new system?  Adapting or intervening with an existing one?)

I’m intervening in an existing system.


5 precedents


Some information that I found on the website:

A woman’s ability to choose if and when to become pregnant has a direct impact on her health and well-being. Research suggests that women who have more than 4 children are at increased risk of maternal mortality.Family planning represents an opportunity for women to pursue additional education and participate in public life, including paid employment in non-family organizations. Additionally, having smaller families allows parents to invest more in each child. Children with fewer siblings tend to stay in school longer than those with many siblings. Many adolescent girls who become pregnant have to leave school. This has long-term implications for them as individuals, their families and communities. Birth control would reduce this. According to the article: ” Contraceptive use has increased in many parts of the world, especially in Asia and Latin America, but continues to be low in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, use of modern contraception has risen slightly, from 54% in 1990 to 57.4% in 2015. Regionally, the proportion of women aged 15–49 reporting use of a modern contraceptive method has risen minimally or plateaued between 2008 and 2015. In Africa it went from 23.6% to 28.5%, in Asia it has risen slightly from 60.9% to 61.8%, and in Latin America and the Caribbean it has remained stable at 66.7%.”  The need for contraceptives is still high with 225 million women  in developing countries that would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception, because of limited access to contraceptives, cultural and religious beliefs, fear of side effects, lack of education and gender based barriers.

2.  Toronto artist using comics to educate women about birth control methods

Rebecca Roher is creating comics that serve to educate about birth control, reality of pregnancy and women’s issues. Birth Control Tales is a colourful online comic based around friends chatting about birth control before a visit to “Dr. A,” who counsels them on contraceptive options. It’s a great example of art that is touching on a subject I’m interested in.

3. Planned Parenthood

Last year, the United Nations declared access to contraception to be a “universal human right.”  Improved access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality. According to a Guttmacher study, a majority of women said that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63 percent), support themselves financially (56 percent), complete their education (51 percent), or keep or get a job (50 percent). But this is not just a health issue, it’s an economic issue.

4. How Contraception Transformed the American Family

As written in the article : In 1965, 24 states prohibited the sale of contraceptives to any individual. As a series of legal decisions made contraception legal  young women were increasingly likely to delay marriage, complete college, and enter occupations previously dominated by men. Young women between the ages of 18 and 21 gained more labor-force experience and earned 5 to 8 percent higher wages in their prime than women of the same age without access to contraception. The benefits of access to the Pill for unmarried women can explain roughly one-third of the convergence in the gender gap in earnings by the 1990s.


5. Paiwdc. “Empty Handed: Responding to the Demand for Contraceptives.” YouTube. June 22, 2010. Accessed April 09, 2017.

The video I watched consists of interviews with young women, members of Ugandan parliament and midwives at a health center.   What stands out is the struggle these women go through  in order to get back control over their own lives.   My initial impression was that these women are willing to walk miles and miles to get to health clinics and they often need to take their kids with them as there is no one to look after them.  I brought an assumption that there are some limiting forces within the power structure of the societies shown in these videos.

Sylvia Sinabulya, a member of the parliament of Uganda and women’s maternal health advocate, shares some of the issues that  include  shortages of contraceptives, husbands objections and lack of resources. The viewer gets an inside into the malfunctioning system of delivery.  It is stated that 95% for contraceptives in Uganda comes from donors and only 5 % from the government funding . The interviewees believe that the government  could should the gap and that it needs recognize its responsibility in providing better life for Uganda’s women.  Sylvia goes even further by saying that when people are aware of their rights when they can demand services that can impact the whole society and make a positive change.  In Africa, one in 26 women of reproductive age dies from a maternal cause.



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