Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Family Planning Summit opening plenary on global leadership, in London today:
I thank the United Kingdom for co-hosting this Summit and for its leadership not only on family planning but across the sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda. I also thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their generous support and for promoting access to family planning, which is part of the core mandate of UNFPA [United Nations Population Fund], who are also co-host of this Summit.
It is inspiring to see how we have progressed since the first Summit in 2012, which aimed to build on the momentum created by the Every Woman, Every Child movement. Now we must finish the job.
Today is World Population Day, with the theme “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations”. Investing in family planning is truly an investment in the health and rights of women, girls and couples worldwide. These investments yield gains that propel development and are critical to the success of the 2030 Agenda. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will depend significantly on how well the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people are fulfilled.
Catering to the unmet need for family planning is among the most cost-effective investments overall. Women who choose family planning are healthier and face lower risk of complications and death during pregnancy and childbirth. Children born to women who space their pregnancies tend to be healthier and face reduced risk of death in their first five years.
Women with choices and improved reproductive health are also more empowered to seek and keep better jobs, and to contribute more to their families and nations. Their families are better off financially and their children receive better education, helping trigger a cycle of prosperity that carries well into future generations. This demographic dividend will enhance global prosperity.
But today there is an unmet need for family planning for 214 million women and girls. To achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health by 2030, different sectors and actors need to work together in an integrated manner by pooling financial resources, knowledge and expertise. We need inclusive global, regional, national and local partnerships between Governments, the private sector and civil society, built on shared principles and values. Every Woman Every Child is one such proven, successful multi-stakeholder partnership.
I welcome the new FP2020 commitments in support of the movement’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. They will contribute to enabling 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020. This is a critical milestone to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights by 2030, as laid out in Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5.
These commitments, and the work of Every Woman Every Child, are fostering efforts to strengthen a continuum of care and a life-course approach to women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health. We need to do more on that front and all sectors have a contribution to make.
The United Nations has a key role to play. UNFPA, which is part of the H6 agencies helping countries implement the EWEC Global Strategy, is helping promote sexual and reproductive health and rights in more than 150 countries. And the United Nations Population Division and WHO [World Health Organization] are producing analyses of family planning levels and trends, and assessing Government policies related to contraceptive use.
But it is Governments themselves who must drive the process, ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for their people. As you will hear from our next speaker, the African Union has recognized the great importance of this issue, devoting their 2017 theme to “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend for Youth”. Also, the Ouagadougou Partnership countries from West Africa have set an ambitious target to reach more women and girls with family planning. They are making great strides in their efforts.
Yet, to ensure that we leave no one behind, we also need the continued support of civil society and faith-based organizations, globally and on the ground. I thank them for always urging us to strive harder and to do more. Strategic partnerships with the private sector are also becoming increasingly important. These partnerships will ultimately benefit businesses themselves, through healthier, better-educated and more committed workforces and communities.
Finally, we still face a significant funding gap for family planning, especially in humanitarian crises. We must close this gap through donor and domestic investment and innovative financing.
So, on this World Population Day, I invite the international community, Governments, organizations and individuals committed to this cause to increase their support to family planning supplies and services to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.