Foreword from the FP2020
Reference Group Co-Chairs
Family planning has the power to change the world.
The change begins with a woman’s own life. With access to modern contraception, a woman or girl can decide for herself if and when she’s physically, emotionally, and financially ready to bear a child. She can focus on finishing school or building a career, and when the time is right, she can plan and space any pregnancies so that both she and her babies will be healthy. She can provide her children with more of the advantages they need to succeed in life—nutritious food, medical care, educational opportunities—and watch them grow into healthy, educated adults who will in turn make their own productive contributions to society. The virtuous cycle that begins with the empowerment of a single woman can help lift families and ultimately entire communities out of poverty.
The task before us as a partnership is clear: we must step forward and reinvigorate our commitment to the movement in bold, meaningful,and measurable ways.
Family Planning 2020 is built on the premise that the myriad, life-changing benefits of modern contraception should be available everywhere in the world, to every woman and girl. The goal we set at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning is a step toward that vision: to provide 120 million additional women and girls in the world’s poorest countries with access to voluntary, rights-based family planning by the year 2020.
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.
The past year has also reminded us, tragically, of the crucial need for strong, resilient health care infrastructure. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the earthquake in Nepal were both heartbreaking catastrophes, claiming thousands of lives and damaging entire health systems.
The task before us as a partnership is clear: we must step forward and reinvigorate our commitment to the movement in bold, meaningful, and measurable ways. We must ask what more we can do, through our individual institutions and as a partnership, to move us closer to our goals. Our investment in data gathering and analysis over the past three years has given us an unprecedented evidence base for family planning; it is incumbent on us to use that knowledge now, to focus on the programs and interventions we know will work. We must act with urgency to fulfill our promise to the millions of women and girls who want the chance to shape their own lives and destiny.
The good news is that the time to rally as a community has never been better. This is a pivotal year in global development. With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, and expanded global financing mechanisms for health, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to chart a course for the world we want.
We must act with urgency to fulfill our promise to the millions of women and girls who want the chance to shape their own lives and destiny.
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.