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Global leaders say women will have more access to contraceptives

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FemaleCondomGlobal leaders have announced progress and new commitments toward expanding contraceptive access for women in developing countries and also outlined plans for sustaining this momentum in the years to come.

This was during the second day of Women Deliver 2013, the largest conference on girls and women of the decade held in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur this week.

Women Deliver is a global advocacy organisation launched in 2007 that brings together voices from around the world to call for improved health and wellbeing for girls and women.

The day’s events built on commitments and energy generated at the landmark July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, where global leaders pledged more than US $2.6 billion to provide 120 million more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries with voluntary access to contraceptive services, information and supplies by 2020.

Speakers at Women Deliver 2013 on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, discussed strategies to reach women and girls in developing countries who do not want to become pregnant, but lack access to contraceptives.

Commenting on the issue, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates, stated: “Putting women at the centre of development and delivering solutions that meet their needs will result in huge improvements in health, prosperity and quality of life,” adding, “When women have access to contraceptives they’re healthier, their children are healthier, and their families thrive.”

At the morning plenary session led by Melinda Gates and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) Co-Chair Babatunde Osotimehin, government leaders from Africa and Asia highlighted concrete examples of progress on family planning and reaffirmed commitments to further expanding contraceptive access.

Senegal’s Minister of Health, Dr. Awa Coll-Seck, discussed the country’s dramatic progress in eliminating contraceptive stock-outs since the national family planning programme’s roll-out in November 2012, doubling the budget to CFA 200 million with plans for further increases in 2015.

For his part, the Philippines’ Secretary of Health, Dr. Enrique T. Ona, discussed the country’s historic passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, after a nearly 15-year battle, while the First Lady of Zambia, Her Excellency Dr. Christine Kaseba-Sata, highlighted Zambia’s stalwart commitment to expanding family planning access in the country, which launched its national family planning programme last month.

Indonesia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, also announced his government’s increase in funding for long-acting reversible contraceptives, as part of its redoubled efforts to regain momentum on family planning access after recent plateaus.

Also sharing their commitment to reproductive health issues, National Coordinator for Malawi’s Safe Motherhood Initiative, Mrs. Dorothy Ngoma, discussed the government’s efforts to considerably strengthen the family planning component of safe motherhood efforts countrywide.

Commenting on the commitments made by Africa and Asia’s governments, UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin said: “These countries show that we can make an impact on women’s access to reproductive health if we rally the necessary political will and financial commitments.” “Expanding access to contraceptives is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to save lives and ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations,” he added.

In addition to a high-level plenary on innovative advocacy strategies, to ensure continued advocacy for governments to sustain and increase their commitments to family planning and to girls’ and women’s health and rights more broadly, Global Poverty Project (GPP) CEO and Co-Founder Hugh Evans announced the new advocacy campaign It Takes Two, led by GPP in partnership with Women Deliver.

The campaign aims to motivate young men and women to take action in support of family planning services and information, and to hold governments accountable for their FP2020 commitments.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

Over 4,500 world leaders, advocates, call for continued investment in girls and women

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