Family planning (FP) programs in developing countries have been experiencing a phenomenon that I like to call “the leaking bucket.” Let’s say that you place a bucket under an open tap and watch the water level rise, until you discover a hole in the bottom of the bucket. Water is now leaking out of the bucket. Filling the bucket will be easier once the hole is plugged. In the same way, meeting women’s desire to reduce unwanted fertility will become easier once FP programs pay more attention to contraceptive discontinuation.
On July 17, Katja Iversen, CEO of Women Deliver, published “Working Hard to Get the World We Want: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights After 2015” on The Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood blog. In this post, Iversen reports on the work of the Open Working Group (OWG) for Sustainable Development Goals, which is comprised of representatives from 70 countries and tasked with the creation of a new global framework for development that they are set to present to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by the end of July. The influence of this report on the future of international development, sustainability, and human rights cannot be overstated.
The goals and targets it proposes—and the issues explicitly addressed—will be of utmost importance in the shaping of the post-2015 development agenda. Due to conservative push-back, Iversen decries, the current report language fails to include sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as the health of young people despite the fact that “the majority of governments have identified [SRHR] as a priority to get the world on a sustainable path.”
The blog post discusses the vital role that voluntary family planning and ensuring rights and contraceptive choices for women and girls play in ensuring equal opportunity, economic growth, and the development and maintenance of healthy populations. Iversen urges readers to take action and suggests ways to become involved in supporting the push for inclusion of SRHR in the forthcoming global development framework. Read this important post and join EngenderHealth, Women Deliver, and other organizations and individuals in the effort to make SRHR a priority in the post-2015 global development agenda and a reality for all.
Human rights. Contraceptive choice. Access. Information. Empowerment. What do all of these things mean? How do they relate to family planning (FP)? Since the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning and the movement it initiated, FP2020, the topic of human rights and empowerment in FP has risen on the international development agenda. We know that the Summit “underscored the importance of access to contraceptives as both a right and a transformational health and development priority.”[i] But what does this mean in practice? How can FP programs turn rhetoric about rights into a reality?
The recently published Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect and Fulfill Human Rights: a Conceptual Framework Users’ Guide is intended for use in conjunction with the Voluntary Family Planning Programs that Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework, published in 2013 by Futures Group and EngenderHealth with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.[ii] The User’s Guide is intended for use by a wide audience spanning policymakers, program managers, health providers, rights advocates, civil society organizations, donors, technical assistance agencies, implementing organizations, and researchers. The document contains three modules to orient stakeholders to the framework and to guide the processes for using it to assess, plan or strengthen, monitor, and evaluate FP programs through a human rights lens.
Guest post by Shannon Harris
Given the many challenges that countries face in providing family planning (FP) services, how can a client-centered, rights-based approach to programming help governments meet their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill clients’ rights to meet their reproductive needs and desires? This question framed two recent country consultations in India and Kenya to explore the feasibility and desirability of applying the voluntary, rights-based FP (VRBFP) conceptual framework. Were country-level FP stakeholders—program managers, policymakers, and providers—even interested in such an approach?
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Futures Group and EngenderHealth partnered with the Population Foundation of India and the National Council for Population and Development in Kenya to host national and regional stakeholder consultations, as well as conduct FP site visits to explore these questions. Despite diverse cultural, policy and program environments, stakeholders in both countries expressed tremendous interest in using a rights-based approach. Stakeholders found the program vision described in the VRBFP framework appealing and relevant to their programs because of its emphasis on the individuals and communities served by the FP program, while simultaneously acknowledging the importance of the policy environment and supply-side factors.
Guest Post by Shannon Harris
There is greater interest and investment in family planning (FP) programs now than in the last 20 years. With this increased attention and funding, programs are also benefiting from an increased commitment to ensuring that vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations are being better served and that women are receiving high-quality services and expanded contraceptive choice. As FP reemerges as a global priority, there is more attention to the human rights that underlie providing contraceptive services to all individuals. The recently published Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) first annual progress report highlights the new Conceptual Framework for Voluntary, Rights-Based Family Planning, a tool designed to ensure that public health programs oriented toward increasing voluntary FP access and use respect, protect, and fulfill human rights in the way they are designed, implemented, and evaluated.
From November 12–15, an estimated 4,000 government officials, policymakers, program managers, researchers, academics, and youth advocates will gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 3rd Annual International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP).
The theme of this year’s conference—cohosted by The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health—is “Full Access, Full Choice,” echoing the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative’s call to ensure that rights and contraceptive choice are central to meeting the commitment made at the London Summit on Family Planning to reach an additional 120 million women with access to contraception by 2020.
Last week, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) held their 14th annual meeting in Delhi, India. The meeting, cohosted by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, convened more than 200 participants from civil society, the private sector, and governments to work collaboratively toward strengthening the core principles of commodity security—method choice, quality, and equity—to increase access to affordable, high-quality family planning (FP). Continue reading
Celebrating World Contraception Day
Today, the international community celebrates World Contraception Day. This global campaign strives to increase awareness of contraception and encourage its use to enable people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and to prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. This year’s motto, “Your Future, Your Choice, Your Contraception,” targets young people.