By Abigail Rowlands, SRHR Policy and Advocacy Officer, Plan UK and UK Coordinator, Action for Global Health
On 11th July, the UK Government hosted the Family Planning (FP) Summit, bringing together policymakers, donors, and advocates from around the world to commit to support family planning. Huge progress has been made in the past five years since the 2012 summit – but there are still 214 million girls and women around the world who do not have access to modern contraception, and more without access to sexual and reproductive health services.
At the summit, UK Secretary of State for the Department of International Development (DFID), Priti Patel, committed to increase UK family planning funding by 25% – that’s an additional £45 million per year – until 2022. This brings the total UK spend on family planning to £225 million every year for the next five years.
The Secretary of State was also adamant that family planning is “not an add-on” but one of the pillars of a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and crucial to tackling poverty.
The UK’s commitment was highly welcomed by civil society, alongside a multitude of commitments made by other governments and multilaterals. According to the FP Summit website, financial commitments to be announced at the Summit were expected to total at least $2.5billion USD (£1.9billion GBP) by 2020.
The Morning After
In follow-up to the excitement of the Summit, Plan International UK co-hosted ‘The Morning After – Turning 2017 Family Planning Summit Commitments into Comprehensive Action on SRHR’. As the main civil society forum attached to the Summit, it was a chance for those not at the official summit to reflect and share their thoughts.
Co-organised with the UK SRHR network, Countdown 2030 Europe and other civil society organisations, the event brought together over 100 global participants and leaders to consider and take forward actions following the Summit. Below we pull out three of the key takeaways from the discussions.
3 key takeaways:
1. A vision of rights-based, comprehensive SRHR is vital for progress on family planning
- Government pledges made at the summit were congratulated, but it was remarked that there had been a notable absence of attention towards the changing political and funding context on SRHR globally.
- An overriding current in discussions and panel speeches at ‘The Morning After’ event subsequently focused on the need to ensure family planning is part of a wider, comprehensive vision of rights-based family planning which is in turn part of a comprehensive understanding of SRHR.
- This was emphasised by DFID in the need to join up better across family planning, SRHR and work on women and girls. Recommendations from a series of World Café tables at the event also highlighted the range of issues of concern, including violence against women and girls, civil society space, accountability, and integration, amongst others.
2. Need to support a strong youth leadership voice
- It was reflected that one positive outcome of the Summit was that it had a strong youth leadership voice, and this was re-emphasised during the event. When a young person asked how to support the SRHR community the question was turned around; “What world do you want to live in? Tell us what you want to see.”
- Young people should be the ones to decide what world they want to live in, and as a sector we should be listening to young people on those decisions, and supporting them to make them.
3. Civil society energy and commitment to prioritise FP and SRHR
- There were many discussions and suggestions around how to ensure family planning remains at the top of the agenda in the changing global political context, including calls to reframe FP as key to poverty alleviation efforts.
- What was most overwhelming at this event however was the level of engagement and energy of civil society and other agencies present; from the calls to be disruptive, to the bold vision expressed by the newly launched SheDecides initiative, with its confident manifesto and call to action on broader gender equality and SRHR.
- There was an elevated energy level in discussions and recommendations from World Café tables, and clear commitment from civil society and other agencies to continue the advancement of rights-based family planning and SRHR in the follow-up to the summit and years to come.