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Progress in family planning – but a long road ahead

Last week, Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) released its annual report. The project is designed to enable 120 more million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use modern contraception by 2020. The report notes a 30 per cent increase in users, which is just over half the number the FP2020 had hoped to reach at this stage. Increased use of modern contraceptives

The FP2020 initiative was launched following a major family planning summit in 2012. It reports that as of July 2017

  • 309.3 million girls and women in the 69 focus countries use modern contraception, an additional 38.8 million girls and women using modern contraception since the project started in 2012
  • Almost half of all new modern contraceptive users are in Africa, with 16 million additional women using modern contraception in the FP2020 countries of Africa compared to 2012. The fastest-growing regions are Eastern and Southern Africa.
  • More than half the new users are in Asia, representing a total of 21.9 million women and girls. The region includes four of the five of the most populous focus countries, namely India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

As a result of modern contraceptive use, between July 2016 and July 2017:

  • 84 million unwanted pregnancies were prevented
  • 26 million unsafe abortions were averted
  • 125,000 maternal deaths were averted

Cuts challenge access to family planning

Despite governments donating US$1.1 billion in funding for family planning in 2016,US cuts in international aid money for family planning have begun to affect provision.

Melinda Gates speaking at the 2012 summit. The Gates Foundation is a major donor to family planning worldwide.

The report notes an increase in global initiatives and funds providers by some donors, and a “growing understanding that rights-based family planning is essential to global development”, a position long held by Population Matters.

Nevertheless, the partnership’s executive director Beth Schlachter told a press briefing last week that “if the current rate of progress continues, FP2020 will not reach its 2020 target of 120 million new users.”

Take Action

Shortly after taking office, President Trump reinstated the ‘global gag rule’, which cuts off US overseas aid to any organisations providing abortion or information about it.

Population Matters joined more than 400 development, social justice, women’s rights and family planning organisations in signing a joint statement condemning the reinstatement of the gag rule and supports the She Decides initiative, intended to generate alternative funding.


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