A new report by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) released Thursday 12th November shows an unprecedented number of the world's poorest women and girls - 290.6 million - are voluntarily using modern contraception, an increase of 24.4 million from 2012.
While significant strides have been made to reach the ambitious goal of enabling 120 million additional women and girls to access family planning by 2020, the report shows that FP2020 and its partners (including Marie Stopes International) must take immediate action to speed up progress.
The FP2020 progress report, Commitment to Action 2014-2015, details achievements since the landmark 2012 London Summit on Family Planning. In the past year alone, the additional 24.4 million women using effective contraceptives have averted:
Countries, donors and organisations continue to join the global family planning movement, stepping forward with financial, policy or programmatic commitments. The Governments of Madagascar, Mali, Nepal and Somalia joined in 2015. As did private sector partners Bayer, Merck (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada) and Pfizer; the global nonprofit, Management Sciences for Health; and the International Contraceptive Access Foundation.
In June Marie Stopes International committed to doubling its FP2020 goal, while the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Pathfinder International and Jhpiego renewed their commitments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to increase its commitment to family planning by 25 percent over the next three years. More new and renewed commitments are expected in the coming months.
The report also reveals that family planning is increasingly a global development priority, with donor governments increasing bilateral funding for family planning by a third since 2012. The United States was the largest bilateral donor in 2014, providing $636.6 million - almost half (44%) of total bilateral funding. The United Kingdom came in second, accounting for nearly a quarter of all funding with $327.6 million.
Despite progress there are still millions of women who want to avoid or delay a pregnancy, but cannot access the information and tools to do it. Overall, the report shows that the effort to reach more women and girls is behind by 10 million in its 2015 projections.
This gap also has implications for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in September. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said:
“Access to voluntary family planning saves and transforms lives. It empowers women and offers a pathway out of poverty. When millions more women have access to the modern contraceptives they need to choose whether, when and how many children to have, we will all be closer to achieving our common goals.”
The report points to three main areas where we can strengthen efforts and accelerate progress: meeting the reproductive health needs of adolescents, increasing the quality of services women receive, and placing a greater focus on reaching the urban and rural poor.
Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said:
“Thanks to the work of FP2020 partners, millions more women now have access to contraceptives, including the poorest, the most marginalised and the hardest to reach. Yet our progress, while significant, is not matching our ambition. We need to take a hard look at the data, scale successful programs and invest smartly. I’m confident that we can keep our promise to millions of women, but only if we act now.”
Read the full report at familyplanning2020.