This year as we mark World Population Day, leaders from around the globe are meeting in London for the Family Planning Summit hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are working to find new ways to support the rights of women and young people to decide whether, when, and how many children to have.
Reproductive rights are among the most basic of human rights. But too often, in too many places, these rights are denied. Millions of women and young people in developing countries don’t have access to information to plan their family. They don’t have health services and modern methods of contraception. This is not only a violation of their right to decide the number, timing, and spacing of their children, it’s also a question of equity as women everywhere should have the same ability to determine this fundamental part of their lives.
Voluntary family planning programs represent more than just an investment in health and human rights. Family planning is one of the most successful development interventions and one of the strongest and most cost-effective investments available. It reduces poverty, and it allows governments to invest in infrastructure, schooling, and healthcare. For over 40 years the U.S. government, through the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been committed to supporting effective and sustainable family planning programs. During this current fiscal year the U.S. contributed over $640 million through USAID for bilateral family planning and reproductive health programs, and $35 million to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest multilateral provider of life-saving family planning and reproductive health information and services. The partnership between the U.S. government and UNFPA is critical to advancing sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for women, men, adolescents and youth around the world.
We must continue to build on this solid foundation and advance solidarity within the international community for the right of women and young people to make decisions about their own bodies. Our efforts are critical to improving the status of women and upholding these basic human rights around the world.