I am currently undertaking several projects that critically exmaine the "unmet need for contraception" indicator. My critiques of this indicator are manifold, but center around four key points:
1) As a product of the population control era, unmet need is focused on fertility and modern contraceptive use, rather than reproductive autonomy or any person-centered outcomes.
2) As a status applied by researchers (mostly from the Global North), there is a colonialist logic to unmet need that belies the agency and decision-making capabilities of the women in the Global South to whom the label is almost exclusively applied.
3) The majority of unmet need in most places comes from lack of demand for contraception, not lack of access.
4) The fact that the technical definition of unmet need is so different from its intuitive understanding means that unmet need is consistently misinterpreted and misunderstood by family planning advocates, policy-makers, program designers, and even researchers.
To address these points, I have a variety of analyses in progress using both DHS data as well as primary data from novel survey questions we piloted in Burkina Faso. The first of these analyses is currently under review at the Population and Development Review, while two others are in progress.