Will the Momentum Set at the 2017 London Family Planning Summit Meet and fulfill the Contraceptive needs and Rights of Adolescents?

By Patrick Mwesigye

Founder/Team Leader: Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYHAF)


IMG_2863In the picture, Patrick Mwesigye (UYAHF) conducts a community focused group discussion with adolescent girls from Bwaise Slum a Kampala Suburb on.

2017 marks exactly five years since the 2012 Summit on Family Planning, and just past the halfway to mark 2020, the year the global community promised to have delivered modern contraception to an additional 120 million women and girls who want them but lack access in 69 of the world’s poorest countries by 2020. But delivering on this commitment requires very urgent intensified action to accelerate progress to Family Planning 2020 goals and our shared vision of universal access to sexual and reproductive health as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Achieving this ambition also requires all women and girls to enjoy fully, their fundamental right to decide freely and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children to have as is central to the vision and goal of FP2020.

On July 11 2017, over 600 policymakers, donors, and advocates from around the world gathered at the Family Planning Summit in London, UK, to discuss efforts to reach our Family Planning 2020 goals and ensure that more women and girls around the world are able to plan their families and their futures.

At the summit policy makers, donors, and advocates collectively announced over $2.5 billion in new funding to deliver rights-based family planning with focus on better serving the largest generation of adolescents in history and the hardest-to-reach women and girls.

The summit also aimed to sharpening our focus on lessons learned and proven solutions, while broadening and deepening our network of partners to bring local action and solutions to scale – particularly for populations that have traditionally been left behind such as adolescents and youth and women and girls in humanitarian situations.

Family planning is a best-buy in global development. When women and girls have access to family planning, they are able to complete their education, create or seize better economic opportunities, and fulfill their full potential—in short, entire families, communities and nations benefit.

The Family Planning Summit co-hosted by, DFID, UNFPA, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the FP2020 partnership saw many of the now 41 FP2020 partner countries make renewed commitments to accelerate family planning progress. Over 100 new commitments were made including two thirds of countries making commitments on adolescent health

Alongside the Summit in London, countries took a lead role in demonstrating their commitment to family planning. More than 3000 people gathered at 34 satellite events across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, demonstrating growing country leadership and support for family planning and untill today, more follow up events are happening at country level.

Financial commitments announced at the Summit are expected to total at least $2.5billion USD by 2020. The majority of the funding – $1.5 billion USD– has been committed by countries in Asia and Africa. Many of FP2020’s 38 partner countries made renewed commitments to accelerate family planning progress, and four new countries are joining the FP2020 partnership. Download the full commitment summary document here

The summit also provided the opportunity for the global community to pause and honor the life and work of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. Dr. Osotimehin dedicated his life to the conviction that sexual and reproductive health and rights, and in particular high-quality, accessible family planning for all must be prioritized in the global development agenda.

FP2020 contributes to the goals of Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, and the commitments to FP2020 are in support of Every Woman Every Child movement.

To Realize the FP2020 and Every Woman Every Child goals, we must empower women and girls as actors and decision makers in their own lives, homes and society and ensure that they are able to fully decide what do with their body, their life and their future without question. Increasing access to family planning, harnessing gender equality and empowering of women and girls to realize their rights and potential is critical to achieving peace, prosperity and sustainable development.

IMG_9275Anna Kukundakwe, UYAHF program officer conducting a training session with school girls of Mita college Kawempe a Kampala suburb on prevention of early and unwanted pregancies and prevention of sexual and gender based violence. This was during the International women’s day 2017.

But central to our efforts to realize the FP2020 and Every Woman Every Child goals, lies Populations that have been left behind, such as; adolescents. Despite the commendable progress made over the last four years as reported by Family Planning 2020, there still remains a huge gap especially in relation to meeting the contraceptive needs of adolescents, recognizing that progress in this group has been slow and inconsistent.

This however presents a timely and much needed opportunity to prioritize the rights and needs of adolescents as emphasized by the Global Strategy for Women’s children’s and Adolescents Health. The 2016 Lancent commission report on adolescents and wellbeing also reiterates the triple dividend of investing in adolescent; for adolescents now, for their future adult lives and for their children. Additionally, the recently published WHO country guidance document; “Global accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents” (AA-HA) notes, clearly that we are at a never before moment for greater global and national attention to increase investments in adolescent health and development.

With the enormous numbers of sexually active adolescents who are currently unable to obtain and use contraceptives but do not want to get pregnant or want to space or delay child birth, the momentum set at the July 11 Family Summit 2017, presents us a never before opportunity to address adolescent contraception.

Our efforts to expand access to quaity contraceptive services for adolescents must be combined with efforts to build their desire and ability to use them and to do so consitently. However, this can only be possible if we get to action and do things differently to meet their needs and fulfill their rights.  Efforts by FP2020 to make adolescent contraception a key priority are timely as witnessed in the prtnerhsip’s midpoint review “Momentum at the Midpoint” which emphasizes accountability, partnership and youth and adolescents as key areas of focus in moving forward.  As recommended by the Midpoint report, to meet the needs of youths and adolescents countries and stakeholders must examine their policies, and programs and develop a process of evaluation that genuinely reflects a youth perspective, and implement evidence based programs that work.

In conclusion, i want to refer you to the words of the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his forward to the revised Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents Health, “The Updated Global Strategy includes adolescents because they are central to everything we want to achieve, and to the overall success of the 2030 Agenda.  By helping adolescents realize their rights to health, wellbeing, education and full and equal participation in society, we are equipping them to attain their full participation as adults”

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