By Tewodros Melesse Director-General IPPF
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) just pledged to help 60 Million women access essential services as part of the Family Planning 2020 target. This is a number but the change is individual and unique.
For Felistus who lives in a remote part of Zambia, getting contraception involves a four hour walk across two mountains.
Her husband, Peter said: “Family planning helps us to enjoy our marriage without fear of unwanted pregnancies. Children grow healthier and we cannot have more than we can afford.”
But there’s a cost for Peter and his wife. When Felistus sets off on the trip - every three months – she has to leave her five children unattended. A lot of women would be put off.
High fertility remains a problem in Zambia but could be tackled if contraception was easier for women and girls to get hold of. Many women like Felistus want contraception but many can’t get it.
Across the world in 2015, approximately 225 million women who wanted it did not have access to family planning resulting in 74 million unplanned pregnancies, ill health and almost 300,000 maternal deaths. Maternal mortality is still one of the biggest killers of girls aged between 15 and 19.
We want every woman to be able to decide whether they have children and if so, how many they want and the spacing between them.
We are making this announcement as IPPF's global contribution to the Family Planning 2020 goal at the International Family Planning Conference in Indonesia. As part of Family Planning 2020 the global family planning community agreed that it would ensure 120 million additional women had access to contraception by 2020.
For IPPF, this is not a game of numbers. For us it’s very simple – it is about putting women like Felistus at the front and centre of what we do.
We have already demonstrated how serious we are about tackling women’s lack of access to family planning services. We have increased the number of clients we reach by 40 per cent since 2012. We know that if you do it right you can get generations of women using family planning services – we have seen this in Ethiopia and India.
Helping women get access to family planning, means a tailored approach in each country. Our staff and volunteers working in 170 countries, have the networks to meet those needs.
We are able to take our services to the people who need them most in the most inaccessible areas around so every woman can get contraception, regardless of their age and without facing judgement or criticism.
As the recent FP2020 showed there’s still a way to go to meet the global goal on unmet need and that’s why we are ramping up our efforts.
We have been challenged and we have reacted by making the most ambitious but realistic pledge possible by reviewing our service statistics to really change the global outcome. We want to see others join this effort and are calling for better financing at international and national levels.
Please help us make sure that women like Felistus can just pop into their local village on the way to the market to get contraception rather than having to embark on a four hour walk. It would be life changing.