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London Global Summit on Family Planning: a game changer for women’s freedom and rights

Joanna Hayter

Joanna Hayter, IWDA Executive Director

Yesterday’s summit resulted in an unprecedented global commitment to advancing family planning. The groundbreaking summit has catalysed global policy, financing, commodity and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020.

We know there are over 200 million women and girls in developing countries who want to delay, space or avoid pregnancies and are not able to access contraception, information or services. This contributes to over 75 million unintended pregnancies every year, to increased maternal and newborn deaths, to death resulting from unsafe abortions, and to reduced health and education outcomes for children.

It has been a long journey from 1994, when the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development developed a global program of action to address sexual and reproductive health. With the pledges made yesterday by the Gates Foundations and governments, including Australia, we expect a result that will see 200,000 fewer women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, more than 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, over 50 million fewer abortions and nearly three million fewer babies dying in their first year of life.

The commitment by our own government is pleasing and to be congratulated. However, it remains imperative that the increased funding extends beyond service delivery to tackle the cultural, religious and political barriers that impede a woman’s or girl’s sexual and reproductive choices.

It is a truly significant moment in history—one to celebrate and generate confidence in moving women’s sexual and reproductive health rights forward.

International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) is a member of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Consortium, also involving Marie Stopes International Australia, CARE Australia, PLAN International Australia and The Burnet Institute. Call 03 9650 5574 for more information.

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