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Humanitarian Settings a Key Focus At Family Planning Summit

2017 Family Planning Summit Marks First Time Humanitarian Settings is Elevated as a Specific Area of Focus

London, UK – Marking five years since the inaugural 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, donors, governments, NGOs, agencies, and advocates to London gathered in London today to assess progress on the original goal to empower 120 million additional women and girls in the 69 lowest income to use modern contraception by 2020.

While progress has been made – since the original commitment 30 million additional women and girls are using modern contraception – current progress is not on track to achieve the 2020 goals. According to providers, implementers, and advocates, one of the areas where family planning services have not been prioritized by donors and governments is in humanitarian settings.

For the first time at a family planning summit, today’s event – co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government, and UNFPA in close partnership with FP2020 – featured humanitarian assistance, making it one of five key areas of the summit.

“Prioritizing family planning across humanitarian assistance is essential to achieving universal family planning goals. But, it’s about more than that, it’s about advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women in any setting.” said Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). “This summit presents a much-needed opportunity for countries and donors to step up to the plate and fully commit to providing family planning to women and girls affected by conflict or crisis.”

The WRC serves as the secretariat for the Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis (IAWG) which hosted a panel discussion at the summit to highlight successful family planning services across a variety of regions and humanitarian settings including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Pakistan.

Since 2012, for example, family planning services providers have helped ensure more than 197,500 new years of family planning in Pakistan, more than 205,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more than 120 humanitarian operations in Yemen provide family planning services.

“Whether it’s a chronic crisis or natural disaster, we know that family planning services are successfully being delivered around the world,” said IAWG Family Planning Working Group Co-Chair Jennifer Schlecht. “What is missing is the necessary commitments and funding to expand and scale up this essential service provision.”

The panel discussion, “When She Needs it Most: Delivering Family Planning in Humanitarian Contexts,” featured Ugochi Daniels, Head of Humanitarian Response Branch at UNFPA; Kate Gilmore, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr. Grace Kodindo, an OB-GYN and member of the Chadian ministry of health; Mugwisha Willet, UNHCR Refugee Youth Ambassador; Syed Kamal Shah, CEO of the Rahnuma-FPAP Family Planning Association of Pakistan; and Sarah Costa.

A new IAWG report was launched at the event which detailed nine recommendations for advancing family planning humanitarian settings.

The nine recommendations call on FP2020 countries, donors, and implementing agencies to:

  • Prioritize family planning as a live-saving intervention in any humanitarian emergency response and at the very onset on an emergency;
  • Increase focus on reproductive health services provision as a vehicle to country preparedness and resilience building;
  • Improve data gathering and implementation science to continue to assess the reach and need of women and girls affected by crises.

The full report can be found here.