In the past three years we’ve made enormous strides. FP2020 partners are bringing family planning programs and contraceptive services to millions of women and girls who have never had access before, including the poorest, the most vulnerable, and the hardest to reach. An unprecedented 290.6 million women and girls are now using modern contraception in the 69 FP2020 focus countries, an increase of 24.4 million from 2012. In the past year alone,1 80 million unintended pregnancies were prevented, 26.8 million unsafe abortions were averted, and 111,000 women’s and girls’ lives were saved—all because they were able to use modern, effective methods of family planning.
Yet as we approach the halfway mark to our 2020 goal, we are faced with a shortfall we cannot ignore. Our progress, while significant, is not keeping pace with our projections. Although an additional 24.4 million women and girls now have access to modern methods of contraception, this is 10 million fewer than the benchmark for 2015 we projected at the time of the 2012 London Summit. In countries where the population is growing rapidly, simply maintaining existing levels of service is a tremendous undertaking; to expand these programs will require an even greater effort. Additional resources and targeted interventions are needed to both address lingering challenges and bring innovative approaches to scale.
Universal access to family planning and contraceptive services is an essential part of that world. Now is the moment to build bridges to our partners across sectors—to those working to improve education, maternal health, economic equality and environmental policies—to demonstrate that voluntary, rights-based family planning is the linchpin for every other aspect of development. FP2020’s goal of reaching 120 million women and girls by 2020 is a critical milestone on the journey to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, and contraceptive access for all, by 2030.
By empowering women and girls with the ability to plan their own lives and families, we—and they— can truly change the world.
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund
Dr. Chris Elias
President of Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
1. Measured from July 2014 to July 2015.