Empty Handed tells the story of women’s lack of access to reproductive health supplies in sub-Saharan Africa, and its impact on their lives. The film documents the challenges at each level of the supply chain and identifies key areas for improvement. Empty Handed aims to provoke discussion and mobilize support for reproductive health supplies.

Empty Handed Short from Population Action International on Vimeo.

Watch the full film



Around the world, more than 200 million women lack access to basic contraception. Often, these women must travel far from their communities to reach a health facility, only to return home empty handed due to shortages and stock-outs.

When women seeking family planning services are turned away, they are unable to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In developing countries, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 75. In sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility rates are some of the highest in the world, the risk of dying is 1 in 22.

Family planning is an effective strategy to reduce maternal mortality. This film shows that ongoing challenges in obtaining reproductive health supplies can have devastating consequences for family size, abortion, spacing and delaying pregnancy,HIV/AIDS and other STIs.