Five years since the London Summit, a landmark occasion to energize global commitment to women and girls

A note from Beth Schlachter, FP2020 Executive Director

Courtesy of Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage

This July will mark five years since the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, the global event that launched the FP2020 initiative. These have been years of enormous progress and innovation for the global family planning movement. Because of the work of partners around the world, last year, for the first time, more than 300 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries were using life-saving modern contraception and therefore have a chance to plan their own lives and chart their own futures.

But we have a long way to go to make a range of high-quality contraceptive products available to all the women who want and need them. That’s why the UK Secretary of State for International Development, the Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP, will co-host an international summit on family planning in London this July with Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The event will bring together governments, the United Nations, foundations, the private sector, and civil society to galvanize progress on family planning: to both meet our 2020 goals and strengthen the foundations for achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (including family planning) by 2030, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals.

The timing for this summit is opportune. With the international development landscape shifting rapidly and the Sustainable Development Goals providing a new global framework, this is the ideal moment to energize our commitment to women and girls and their right to control whether and when they have children. And we know so much more than we did in 2012: our progress over the last five years, together with deeper and broader data, analysis, and evidence, have given us unprecedented insight into what works and where the persistent challenges remain.

Most importantly, the center of gravity for the family planning movement has been strengthened within countries. Nearly 40 of the world’s lowest income countries have embraced family planning as a cornerstone of their development plans; and these goals and objectives are the foundation for our work going forward. If the first Summit was an aspirational call to action, this second Summit will be about harnessing our energy, learning, and partnerships to support country partners in reaching women and girls, and men and boys, with the voluntary, rights-based programs and high-quality services they aspire to provide.

The focus of the Summit will be on concrete, tangible actions in four key areas:

Innovative financing solutions: We’ll explore new financing models to ensure the sufficient and timely availability of quality contraceptives around the world; we’ll also explore innovative partnerships to support domestic resource mobilization and locally sustainable funding streams.

Strengthening supply chains and expanding the range of contraceptives available to women: We’ll bring on board the expertise of private-sector logistics experts to improve supply chains and ensure that no woman is left empty-handed. We’ll work with countries to expand the range of contraceptives available so that women can choose a method that best meets their needs.

Empowering young people to thrive: We’ll partner with countries to shift policies and make financial commitments to increase voluntary contraceptive access and uptake among young people. There are 1.8 billion adolescents in the world, and we can’t achieve universal access to contraception unless we address the unique needs of this critical demographic.

Reaching the hardest to reach: We’ll be working to make sure that women experiencing humanitarian crises or facing other socio-cultural barriers can access the contraceptive services and supplies that they need to protect their health.

The Summit will also provide a vital link with other key moments and milestones this year, including the African Union’s Year of the Demographic Dividend — which emphasizes access to modern contraception as one of Africa’s development objectives — and the She Decides initiative launched by European partners earlier this year. We’re also exploring parallel events with the UK Parliament and the EU Parliament, as well as a partnership with Canada’s Global Adolescent Health Conference in May in light of the Canadian government’s recent announcement on International Women’s Day of $650 million to be invested over three years toward sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning.

Through all this, we are seeing an incredible current of energy and a groundswell of momentum that, if channeled effectively, can translate into real and meaningful progress at national and subnational levels.

Everyone has a role to play in this year’s gathering. The 2012 Summit established FP2020 as a platform for global collaboration where partners can share experiences and solve problems together. At the 2017 Summit, we’re going to build on the FP2020 partnership and the lessons we have learned to go even further.

Only by working together more closely than ever can we deliver what is required to empower women and girls to transform their lives of women and girls and contribute to a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous future for all.

Read the summit concept note
See Melinda Gates’
Family Planning Voices post that discusses the summit.

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