UNITED NATIONS, New York—Family planning is anchored on respect for human rights, women’s empowerment and social justice and equality, according to Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. “Leaving the need for family planning unmet,” he said, “would be to accept the unacceptable.”
Marking World Population Day at the London Summit on Family Planning today, Dr. Osotimehin committed UNFPA to helping nations ensure that every woman is free to exercise her right to access voluntary family planning. By doing so, he said, “millions of mothers will be healthier, and so will their children.”
The London Summit, organized by United Kingdom Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners, is an initiative to give 120 million more women in developing countries access to voluntary family planning by 2020. To achieve that goal, the Summit aimed at mobilizing the political will and extra resources needed to increase the demand and support for family planning.
During the Summit, donor countries and foundations together pledged $2.6 billion; developing countries, on the other hand, pledged to increase their support to family planning.
“UNFPA is pleased with and welcomes the concrete commitment of resources and political will made at this summit as this could mean the difference between life and death for millions of women,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “For its part, UNFPA will increase the proportion of its programme funds for family planning from 25 per cent to 40 per cent.”
In other parts of the globe, World Population Day was marked by a variety of events organized by UNFPA and its national partners. Activities ranged from exhibitions, essay contests and TV and radio programmes and debates, to poster and billboard campaigns, underscoring the need for universal access to reproductive health services, especially voluntary family planning.
“With its more than 40 years of experience and record in voluntary family planning, I am proud to say that UNFPA is helping women—and men—make their own reproductive decisions within a framework of human rights,” said Dr. Osotimehin.
“We know how to address the logistical, cultural, societal and economic barriers to access,” he added. “We know how to reach the most vulnerable and those with the greatest need. We know that voluntary family planning is a key that unlocks the door to sustainable development.”
“Today,” said Dr. Osotimehin, “I commit myself and all of us at UNFPA to fully support this global effort to make sure every woman everywhere is free to exercise this most basic human right.” He pledged to “continue transforming and reforming UNFPA to be a global leader in family planning; to work with all stakeholders to satisfy the unmet need of an additional 120 million women; and to promote the rights of women and girls, men and boys that would enable them to fulfil their potentials.”
“If we succeed, and we will,” he added, “millions more women will finally have the power to decide how many children to have and when. Millions more adolescent girls will be able to avoid unintended pregnancies, stay in school and realize their full potential.”
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