More than 2,000 advocates, donors, and researchers gather for the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) from 29 November - 2 December 2011.
Thousands from around the world gathered at Le Méridien President Hotel in Dakar, Senegal last Tuesday for the opening of the International Conference on Family planning.
This is the largest meeting of its kind, and will aim to push forward an agenda for broad family planning access and support around the world. More than 215 million women worldwide want but do not have access.
The historic four-day conference features more than 140 plenaries, sessions and panels that will share latest research, proven strategies, and lessons learned in addressing the massive need for contraception worldwide.
Participants will seek to galvanize greater political and financial support, hold governments accountable for their commitments, and champion contraceptive innovation and access.
In a world of seven billion, empowering women and ensuring access to contraception for all individuals is more important than ever.
"Now is the time to prioritize family planning - as a strategy to reduce maternal mortality, to improve the lives of women and their families, and ultimately, to enable broad and enduring economic development," said Dr. Amy Tsui, Director of the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a lead conference organizer.
To launch this landmark meeting, Melinda Gates welcomed over 2,000 participants in a video address. An opening plenary featured remarks from: His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal; Her Excellency Chantal Compaoré, the First Lady of Burkina Faso; the Honorable Stephen O'Brien, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of DFID; and Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund.
"We are honored to have such an influential group of experts together in Africa - precisely where the need is greatest, and the hurdles highest. We believe that this conference will shape the future of families and nations and will be a milestone event for women, men, youth and children worldwide," said Dr. Tsui.
As the conference opens, the need for family planning access, affordability, and effectiveness has never been greater - but nor have the solutions been more attainable.
The wealth of scientific knowledge, family planning experience, and critical discussions at ICFP will help ensure that universal access to family planning becomes a reality.
The ICFP is co-sponsored by more than 30 international organizations including USAID, DFID, AFD, UNFPA, WHO, European Commission, World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.