Family planning as a global priority

November 22, 2013 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

Family planning as a global priority

The third annual International Conference on Family Planning closed on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with new and increased commitments from countries around the world to bolster local and global family planning initiatives. The conference, under the theme “Full Access, Full Choice,” was co-hosted by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia. This year’s conference was largest family planning conference in history; thousands of policymakers, researchers, and advocates came together to increase awareness of the benefits of family planning, such as improving maternal and child health, education rates, economic growth, and social stability.

In April 2011, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon and I published a CFR report titled Family Planning and U.S. Foreign Policy that discusses similar themes. The report emphasizes how investing in family planning supports a myriad of U.S. foreign policy and international development objectives. Allowing women to make decisions about the size of their families and the timing of their pregnancies has positive health outcomes such as reduced maternal and child mortality, improved child health, and fewer safe and unsafe abortions. Moreover, family planning is highly cost effective: for every U.S. dollar spent on family planning, six are saved, and communities reap substantial economic benefits. When women are given access to contraceptives and other modern methods of family planning, they are able to stay in school – and extended education is directly correlated with increased income. These women are also more likely to join the workforce and run their own businesses, allowing them to contribute to their local economies and fulfill their potential to be productive members of their communities.

For decades, the United States has played a leading role in promoting access to contraceptive education and resources in developing countries. Since the launch of its first family planning program in 1965, USAID has continued to expand its international family planning efforts and now operates in more than fifty countries around the world. USAID has helped countries that previously struggled to provide family planning services – such as Indonesia and Mexico – reduce fertility rates and improve community health by providing financial and technical assistance. Through USAID, the State Department, and other government agencies, the United States has helped millions of women around the world plan their pregnancies, and their lives.

To read the full op-ed, please click here:

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