19 November 2018

Africa: Family Planning, an Effective Anti - Poverty Intervention Strategy

According to the Mckinsey Global Institute, if women were able to participate in the economy at the same level as men, it would add some 28 trillion US dollars to the global Gross Domestic Product.

As the International Conference on Family Planning brings together thousands of global policymakers and researchers, young people and advocates for the world largest academic conference on family planning, hopes are high that the platform will steer more vigor into the agenda of empowering women and girls.

Global leaders and other partners are now looking to family planning as a driver to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is presented in a new analysis that shows that better family planning can break the cycle of poverty, drive new economic growth and improve the health of a country's citizens.

The latest report on family planning capturing 69 of the world's lowest in some countries shows that more women and adolescent girls are making voluntary choices to use contraception now more than ever before.

More importantly the report entitled, FP 2020: Catalyzing Collaboration, indicate that governments are prioritizing family planning programmes as an essential part of their development strategies.

According to the report more than 317 million women and girls are now choosing to use a modern method of contraception, 46 million more used than in 2012 when the FP 2020 was launched.

FP 2020, a leading global partnership that supports the right of women and girls to decide freely for themselves , whether , when and how many children they want to have also boasts that between 2017 and 2018 , the use of modern contraception prevented more that 119 million unintended pregnancies, 20 million unsafe abortions and 137 000 maternal deaths .

FP 2020 Executive Director Beth Schleicher argues that better family planning empowers women, "and empowered women are economic dynamos, they join the labor force, starting their own business, and investing in their communities. This sparks a ripple effect that generates vast benefits across society, driving productivity, prosperity and sustainability," Schacter said.

As the importance of family planning continues to gain momentum, global funding is on the upswing, with 6 percent since 2016.

And the United Nations Population Fund which accounts for 40 percent of all the donated family planning contraceptives says progress needs to be accelerated if universal coverage is to be attainted.

UNFPA Executive Director DR. Natali Kanem notes 5.8 billion US dollars is needed per year than what is being spent to attain universal coverage.

Dr. Kanem added that achieving the Sustainable development Goals is significantly dependent on how well family planning access to women and young people is met.

"The issue is not about population growth at all, the issues is about women and young peoples' choices and rights of women in Africa to be able to decide to use contraceptives, the exciting news from this conference is that in Africa where there is a huge demand for family planning services, things are getting better but not as fast as women want," Kanem said.

She notes that UNFPA is working with many countries to ensure that these services and information about various family planning commodities are brought closer to the women and girls even those in rural communities in order to attain universal access.

It is therefore right to say that family planning delivers demographic dividend that can help transform economies, as birthrates drop and the ration of adults to dependent children increases.

The Global Development Division of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is of the view that with fewer dependents to support, a country can invest more in education, infrastructure and other productivity -enhancing measures.

President for the Global Development Division Bill and Melinda Gate foundation Dr. Chris Elias notes that Family Planning is not just a public health issues but a development and economic issues.

'Now we dealing with facts and facts matter, family planning is one of the most effective anti-poverty interventions, we invest in family planning , get closer to ending poverty and consequently the SDGs." said Dr. Elias.

As the 5th international conference on family planning takes shape in the next few days, strategies for investing in lifetime returns will be coined.

Ruth Kanyanga Kamwi is a Zambia Journalist and a Graca Machel Trust WIMN member.

She was attending the 2018 ICFP in Kigali, Rwanda as a participant in the Population Reference Bureau's Women's Edition 2017-2018 programme.

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