Ahead of the London Family Planning Summit taking place next week, PSN has joined other members of the UK Network on Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights in signing a supportive statement calling for the summit to exceed ambitions.
© Natalie Bailey/IRIN
The UK SRHR Network welcomes and applauds the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) London Family Planning Summit and calls on donors, governments and civil society to not only attain but to exceed its goals.
The human right of a woman to decide when and if she becomes pregnant with an informed choice of modern methods of contraception underpins women’s empowerment and the right to health. But it is a right that has long been neglected and under-resourced:
In the context of this marginalisation, total global donor support for family planning fell to just over US$300 million in recent years, while at national level many governments have no budget line for family planning. As a result, today there are 220 million women who want access to contraception but are unable to obtain it.
Many will suffer debilitating injury or die from complications in a pregnancy they never wanted. Others are left trapped in poverty and low social status. This represents a global failure to ensure that women’s reproductive rights are respected and protected.
The Summit’s goal of 120 million new users of family planning by 2020 is therefore welcome. But the international community must recognize that providing family planning to all women who want to use it is an eminently achievable goal. Today's total global unmet need can be met for only US$4 billion per year - an investment that would save almost US$6 billion in maternal and newborn health costs.
As a SRHR Network, we recognise that improving access to contraception alone will be insufficient to achieve the full range of sexual reproductive health and rights that were globally endorsed at the ICPD. Essential components of SRHR include integrated services for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections; access to safe abortion services; and legal reform for women’s equity and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights of women, men, young people and sexual minorities.
Furthermore, a fundamental principle underpinning all action from the summit must be to ensure that women have the right to decide freely on matters related to sexual and reproductive health without discrimination or coercion, and irrespective of their marital status. The Summit must attach great importance to monitoring and accountability to ensure that services are delivered but also that the right to full informed choice, freedom from coercion or violence, is always respected and that low income, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups including adolescents are reached. This will require the full participation of civil society in monitoring and accountability structures in order to include from the community level.
But the Summit's goals will not be met - let alone surpassed - without the active and vocal support of all stakeholders. We urge governments, donors and other CSOs and consortia to back the Summit, to take this rare opportunity to champion these issues, and to significantly increase investment in voluntary family planning programmes that respect and protect rights. Together we hope that the international community will use the London Family Planning Summit to build a global momentum that not only meets new users by 2020, but exceeds it.
PSN has also joined 1,292 organisations in 177 countries in signing a Civil Society Declaration to the London Family Planning Summit, published in the Financial Times in advance of the summit as part of a Special Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The supportive letter and signatories will be presented to Prime Minister Cameron and Mrs Gates at the London Summit on Family Planning on 11 June.
The UK SRHR statement with the full list of agencies signing on is available to download below.
Author(s) UK SRHR Network