By Morenike Taire
Winners of First-Ever Global Humanitarian Awards for Women’s and Children’s Health Honored Nusa Dua, Indonesia (25 January 2016) – His Excellency Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, and thousands of government, health and development leaders from around the world gathered today in Indonesia for the opening of the fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP).
Co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN), the conference is centered on the theme of “Global Commitments, Local Actions.”
At the opening ceremony, Jokowi; Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNFPA; Dr. Christopher Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and numerous global leaders came together to discuss the global status of family planning and call for urgent action to increase access to family planning services worldwide.
During the ceremony, Jokowi and Elias also presented the first-ever Global Humanitarian Awards for Women’s and Children’s Health. The awards recognize individuals for their tremendous contributions and commitment to advancing maternal and child health and well-being, especially family planning, in communities around the world.
As part of the presentation of the Global Humanitarian Awards, Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director for Health at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), also announced a new $30 million initiative called Adolescents 360, co-funded with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The four-year project will include approaches such as user-centered design to understand adolescent health needs and boost girls’ access to contraceptives in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. The initiative aims to find a model to increase voluntary, modern contraceptive use and reduce unintended pregnancy among girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
“I wish that at this ICFP, we can discuss the main foundations necessary to build the planet that we want [by 2030],” said His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia. “A [future] that ensures all women and girls are empowered to choose whether and when they want to have children and space their births, so that mothers and their babies have better opportunities for better lives.”
“The Government of Indonesia is working hard to revitalize our family planning program [because] we know that the challenges facing Indonesian families in the future will [only] be greater, especially when it comes to population issues… we also encourage local governments to raise awareness and make family planning a priority in every municipality and village across Indonesia,” Jokowi continued.
“I believe that to achieve the (Sustainable Development Goals), we have to take local action… In order to sustain economic growth, investments in family planning are absolutely necessary… I want to invite all global leaders to take real action to bring about healthy mothers, healthy children and healthy and prosperous families – because only by doing this can we make Planet Earth a better place to live,” Jokowi said in his closing statement.
According to the most recent global progress report released by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), a global partnership focused on enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary contraception by 2020, in the last three years, 24.4 million more women and girls who want to avoid or delay a pregnancy have begun using modern contraceptives in the world’s poorest countries.
This brings the total of women using a modern method of contraception in FP2020’s 69 target countries to 290.6 million. However, FP2020 has set annual benchmarks to measure family planning progress, and the most recent numbers revealed that modern contraceptive use is behind 2015 projections by 10 million. Despite recent progress, millions of women still cannot access the family planning information and tools they need.
“The family planning data and evidence point to concrete steps we can take as a community to get back on track to meet our FP2020 goal,” said Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in his speech at the opening ceremony. “Now we must ask ourselves what more we can do to align our efforts to ensure all women have the information and tools they need to time and space their pregnancies.”
Family planning will play a critical role in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the new development agenda for the next 15 years, adopted in September at the United Nations General Assembly – and reducing the global unmet need for family planning services could save an estimated 1 in 4 women from deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth and prevent 1.1 million infant deaths each year. The 2016 ICFP will serve as a platform for global partners to revisit global commitments to family planning and accelerate progress towards the FP2020 goal.
“Family planning is about women’s rights and their capacity to make decisions about their health and well-being, contributing to the objectives of FP2020,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNFPA. “It is a most significant investment to promote human capital development, combat poverty and harness a demographic dividend, thus contributing to equitable and sustainable economic development within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Policymakers and advocates
In the following days of the conference, scientists, researchers, policymakers and advocates attending the ICFP will discuss the latest trends, challenges, innovations and research in the effort to increase access to family planning around the world.
Held biennially since 2009, the ICFP serves as a strategic inflection point for the family planning community worldwide. It provides an opportunity for scientists, researchers, policymakers and advocates to disseminate knowledge, celebrate successes and identify next steps toward reaching the goal of enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary, quality contraception by 2020.
The 2016 ICFP is co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN). The conference is made possible through the ICFP Core Group—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, UNFPA, USAID, FP2020, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Marie Stopes International (MSI) and the UN Foundation—as well as the International Steering Committee and National Steering Committee of the ICFP.