Giving Millions of Women the Right to Decide How Many Children to Have – and When

13 July 2012
Author: UNFPA
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning.  Photograph: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Marking World Population Day at the London Summit on Family Planning, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde 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, mobilized resources that can help 120 million more women in developing countries gain access to voluntary family planning by 2020.

As captured in the video here, Dr. Osotimehin played an active role in the Summit, which garnered commitments of  $2.6 billion from donor governments and other partners. Developing countries  also agreed 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 said in his address to the group. “For its part, UNFPA will increase the proportion of its programme funds for family planning from 25 per cent to 40 per cent.

“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.

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.


United Kingdom
Population : 67.9 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 97%
Girls 97%

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