We, as members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, are inspired by the tremendous opportunity offered by the July 11 London Family Planning Summit to transform the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide. We call on our fellow leaders at the Summit to seize this moment to take unprecedented action to increase access to voluntary family planning – reaching an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
Today, over 200 million women worldwide want to plan their pregnancies but do not have access to modern contraception. For these women, it is a life and death crisis – complications in pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death for women in Africa. Simply giving women access to the family planning services they want can have dramatic effects in reducing maternal and child deaths, as well as leading to dramatic development outcomes. Women who can space and plan their families can better participate in economic development, lead more effective family resource management, and take better care of the children they have.
In addition, many of the women without the ability to plan their pregnancies live in the world’s poorest countries – those already under great stress from high population growth, food and water shortages, and the threat of climate change – making access to family planning a critical investment for communities, countries, and the planet.
That’s why we, as members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, are working with determination on the global stage and at the country level to mobilize the financial resources and political will necessary to break down the barriers to access, including working to ensure that access to reproductive health is included as a priority in the post-2015 development agenda. We are also proud to support brave and innovative leaders like our fellow Council members Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health of Ethiopia, who will bring forward commitments at the Summit and whose success in increasing access to family planning in their respective countries demonstrates the key role of political leadership.
Now is the time for world leaders, donors, civil society and the private sector to come together to take action to empower women and girls. By doing so, we can save lives and help lift families, communities and nations out of poverty.
The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health
The Honorable Gro Harlem Brundtland
Former Prime Minister, Norway
The Right Honorable Helen Clark
UNDP Administrator and Chair of the UN Development Group; Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
Ms. Annie Lennox
Singer-Songwriter, Humanitarian and Founder of the SING Campaign
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka
Former Deputy President, South Africa
The Honorable Joy Phumaphi
Former Minister of Health, Botswana;
Former Vice President of Human Development,
The World Bank
The Honorable Mary Robinson (Chair)
Former President, Ireland; President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice
Dr. Fred Sai
Former President, International Planned Parenthood Federation; Former Senior Population Advisor, World Bank
The Right Honorable Dame Jenny Shipley
Former Prime Minister, New Zealand; Vice President of the Club of Madrid
The Honorable Vaira Vike-Freiberga
Former President, Latvia