From advocates to governments, women’s organisations to the media – all have their work cut out for them if the FP2020 goal is to be met.
With thousands of women around the world unable to access contraceptives, advocates have called for ‘full access, full choice’ at the third International Conference on Family Planning.
Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International, said: “There is little information disseminated about family planning, maternal health and abortion, now is the time to promote it over media with full participation. It means that you are going to put pressure on your governments to be accountable but also form partnerships and advocacy so as to increase awareness on family planning.”
During the conference (12-15 Novemer), held at the African Union Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, FP2020 published its first progress report since it was formed at last year’s London Summit of Family Planning.
One year on from the summit world leaders, family planning advocates, donors and women’s organisations came together to discuss progress on the commitment to give an additional 120 million of the world’s most vulnerable women contraceptive choices by 2020.
Addressing financing and equity
Ehlers said: “The issue of contraceptives has always been about financing and equity: We need strategic interventions, media partnerships, civic engagement, and financial commitment in domestic financing and government commitment on family planning if we are to achieve the 2020 goal.”
All over the world media coverage is vital to promote family planning issues now and leading up to 2020. Ehlers added that in reporting news about family planning media should be analytical, in depth and well researched to help women fully understand the use of contraceptives.
Halima Sheriff, executive director of Advanced Family Planning in Tanzania says there is a need to bring out the truth of women’s experience of family planning services, and to uncover the misconceptions and myths about the use of contraceptive IUDs. “Try to use quality education and information coverage on behavior change for family planning,” said Sheriff.
Training on family planning for journalists
Ethiopian Key Correspondent Befekadu Beyene challenged the experts to provide training for media to fully understand the issues around family planning in the run up to 2020 and also to think about different ways of disseminating information.
He said: “Many African women who live in rural areas do not have time to attend to family planning services, and are usually uneducated. They spend most of their time working at home or in the fields and don’t read newspapers.
“News and information needs to be much more accessible to really strengthen full choice and access to family planning services and change behavior.”
Empowering women to choose family planning
Bridget Anyafulu, founder member of International Centre for Women’s Empowerment and Child Development, Nigeria, said she became concerned when she realised the root of the barrier to family planning is the husband’s attitude to his wife and cultural norms that keep women disempowered.
She explained how it used to be very difficult for women to get access to services from health centers and was considered unacceptable to take the pill, but now increased advocacy and empowerment is opening women’s eyes leading to better family planning and development.
All women should be free to access family planning services, so they can space their pregnancies and have fewer children and not be forced through lack of choice into having more children than they want.
But there is still a long way to go. From advocates to governments, women’s organisations to the media – all have their work cut out for them if the FP2020 goal is to be met.