Melinda Gates anointed herself as the new saviour of women’s and children’s health, and the press ate it up in both pictures and words. A truly Hollywood event, except this is not entertainment. This is women’s lives.
At the family planning summit in London, I waited to hear leaders of different countries recognise the centrality of women’s human rights, their sexual and reproductive rights. But disappointingly, although a few notable references were made to these issues by some leaders, women’s human rights were not appropriately addressed.
Melinda Gates speaks to why giving women and girls access to family planning tools and information is the easiest way to allow them the ability to determine their own futures. The London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012 is the opportunity for the world to come together to invest in women and girls by pledging to support family planning for the millions who need and want it.
We have two options: We can make family planning a priority and invest the money needed to give women control of their own lives and futures. Or we can allow our nation – and our world – to slide backward.
This week’s summit is a crucial opportunity to re-invigorate international efforts to provide millions of women with access to the contraception they so desperately need. Yet increasing the availability of contraception is just one aspect of ensuring reproductive health, and cannot be seen in isolation.
The London Summit aims to meet the contraceptive needs of 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries. This moment is about women and girls who deserve the opportunity to “have it all,” if you will. I believe we have all the consensus we need on that front.
All of the contraceptive technologies and reproductive health interventions in the world will not make a difference if there are not skilled health workers to deliver them.
Yet international support for such programs has not kept pace with the need for family planning. As a result, many developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to face rapid population growth and other impediments to social and economic development.
In mid-July, world leaders will gather in London to discuss a real and urgent need: increased funding for family planning. The summit documents link the dearth of contraceptives and health services to poverty. This vision is not so much wrong as it is incomplete.
Recent cyber attacks on the British Pregnancy Advisory Service are a wake-up call reminding clinics that they should consider cyber security as part of an overall security strategy.