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No Time to Lose: Fulfilling Our Family Planning Promise to 120 Million Women

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

SEATTLE (November 12, 2015) – More women and girls than ever before are able to access contraceptives and family planning services. But a new report finds that the global community risks falling short of its goal to reach an additional 120 million women and girls by 2020. In response, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced that it will invest an additional $120 million dollars in family planning programs over the next three years - a 25% increase on its current family planning funding.

With five years to go, the global community has a narrow yet critical window of opportunity to bring progress back on track. It is the policy, program and budget decisions made now that will determine whether we keep our promise to 120 million women.

 “Three years ago, the global community set an ambitious goal. More than that, we made a promise. A promise to 120 million women and girls that by 2020 they would have access to family planning services and contraceptives if they wanted it,” stated Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Since we made that promise, millions of unintended pregnancies have been avoided and thousands of lives saved. But the hard truth is, that to keep it, we must do more, and we must act now.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that the additional funding will focus on three priority areas that data demonstrate potential for significant progress:

  • Improving the quality of services and the range of contraceptive options that women receive;
  • Reaching the most marginalized with contraceptives and services, particularly the urban poor;
  • Supporting the work of local advocates who are making the case for budgets, policies, and programs that ensure more women and girls can access contraceptives.

With the largest generation of youth in history about to enter their reproductive years, the Gates Foundation will also invest in understanding the unique needs of young people and the challenges that they face in accessing health services.

“We have it in our power to give every woman, every girl, everywhere, the opportunity of a healthy, prosperous life – for herself, her family, and her community,”

Family planning in focus

Access to family planning information and contraceptives can change lives. Enabling women to make informed decisions about whether and when to have children reduces unintended pregnancies as well as maternal and newborn deaths. It also increases educational and economic opportunities for women and leads to healthier families and communities. Voluntary family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make in its future.

  • Investments in family planning has been shown to produce cost savings—from $4 in Zambia to $31 in Egypt—for every dollar spent, that can be reinvested across other sectors, including education, food, health, housing and sanitation.
  • Expanding access to family planning to the more than 220 million women with an unmet need would:
      • Reduce maternal mortality by up to one-third.
      • Avert 52 million unintended pregnancies, which would prevent the deaths of an estimated 70,000 women from related complications.
  • When women space their births by at least three years, newborns are twice as likely to survive their first year, and children are 35% more likely to reach their fifth birthday.

Read more about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s family planning strategy

Family Planning 2020

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a committed partner of FP2020, a global partnership of governments, civil society, multi-lateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and the research and development community working together to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.

FP2020 was founded following the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning which saw unprecedented global political commitments and resources in an effort to enable 120 million more women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.


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