Last week the RIO+20 CONFERENCE in Brazil concluded without significant commitment on Reproductive Health and Rights. Many women's rights organisations weren't happy about that and have shown some level of protest to that effect through press releases. Notably, the front liners on that protest were Women Deliver and World Watch Institute
The Rio+20 meeting, which convened more than 100 Heads of State, aimed to develop a global framework to reduce poverty, while preserving the environment. The meeting also marked the beginning of global discussions around future Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), which could potentially replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after they expire in 2015.
The Press Release among others observed that "We simply cannot achieve sustainable development without the inclusion of women, who deliver enormous social and economic benefits for their families, communities and nations every day," said Jill Sheffield, president of the global advocacy organisation Women Deliver. "Twenty years after the first Earth Summit, the world must do better to acknowledge that the right of women to plan the number and spacing of children is inextricably linked to reaching global development goals."
In order not to be disappointed again, NGOs being led by International Planned Parenthood Federation ahead of London family Planning Summit in early July has coordinated a civil society response to the summit before it kicks up. It produced a 2 page declaration for civil societies which represents the combined views of more than 220 respondents from 57 countries and will be submitted during the summit to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Melinda Gates , the co- chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is one of the highest sponsor of the summit.
Civil Societies' Declaration on Family Planning
The 2-page declaration is aimed to serve as an impetus to whatever promises and pledges countries are expected to make during the event, but most importantly follow up events that need to be organised at country levels to ensure civil societies and media hold governments accountable to their respective pledges and ensure implementation.
The declaration enjoined the Government of the United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in launching the global family planning initiative to drastically improve the quality of life for millions of women, men and young people. The initiative contributes directly to realizing the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD POA).
In particular, CSOs have recognise the potential of the summit to strengthen health systems, expand contraceptive choice and stimulate demand. "By reaching an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020, it will enable some of the world's poorest people to exercise their rights; reduce social, financial and gender inequalities; and contribute to sustainable development. We hope it will inspire additional efforts to benefit women and girls in all countries."
In summary the following headings highlight the declaration:
Country-Led and Country-Owned
Meeting the global unmet need for family planning will require a multi-stakeholder response, and we applaud the strong emphasis of this initiative on building on the existing policy commitments of national governments. Recognising the need for additional and significant support for, and expenditure on, family planning, programmes must be integrated to ensure the most effective and efficient health benefit for women and girls. We commit to partnering with governments and the private sector, to build the required capacity - as recognised in the Every Woman Every Child Country Accountability Framework.
Increasing Demand and Empowering Women
We applaud the initiative's emphasis on empowering women and girls, and delivery through increased service provision. We encourage you to focus on providing information and services to those who have historically faced poor access to family planning, especially young people, poor women, people with disabilities; rural, indigenous, displaced and post crisis populations.
Service Provision: Providing Services for all, including Young People
Family planning is best provided as part of a comprehensive range of services, including sexual and reproductive health. We support this initiative's efforts to reduce legislative, policy and cultural barriers that restrict access to information or services, for all people, including young people. This includes removal of barriers such as the requirement of parental or spousal consent and denial of services to unmarried people.
We are united in our support for increased and sustainable financing dedicated to expanding access to family planning information, services and supplies. We support financing mechanisms that build on and leverage existing national plans and programmes. Such funding should be flexible enough to be made available to the public, private and not-for profit sectors based on their ability to deliver cost-effective results.
This initiative is invigorating the international sexual and reproductive health and rights community. As we near the expiry date of the Millennium Development Goals, we urge the convenors to support global and regional advocacy efforts that build international support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, as central to sustainable development and a critical component of future development goals.
In conclusion, the struggles only begin when all the pledges are made at the end of the summit. Successful implementation of such has to move from the elitist summit to the door step of nation's leaders at home and well as ensure the participation of states and districts of all countries.