The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a three-year, $120 million grant to Family Planning 2020 — a global public-private partnership comprising governments, multilateral and private-sector organizations, individual donors, and the research and development community working to provide 120 million more women and girls with access to effective contraception by 2020.
The grant represents a 25 percent increase in the Gates Foundation's funding for family planning initiatives. "We have it in our power to give every woman, every girl, everywhere the chance to not just survive but thrive; to lead healthy, prosperous lives; to empower them to ultimately transform their lives," said Melinda Gates.
The funds will advance efforts in priority areas that FP2020 and the foundation have identified as demonstrating potential for significant progress, including improving the quality of services and range of contraceptive options women receive; reaching the most marginalized, particularly the urban poor, with contraceptives and services; and supporting the work of local advocates making the case for budgets, policies, and programs which ensure that more women and girls can access contraceptives. In addition, the funds will support studies aimed at understanding the unique needs of young people and the challenges they face in accessing health services.
The Gates Foundation announcement is in response to the latest progress report from FP2020, which found that more women and girls than ever who want to avoid or delay a pregnancy — 290.6 million — are voluntarily using modern contraceptives in the world’s poorest countries, an increase of more than 24 million since 2012. Because of the increase in the number of women using effective contraception, in the past year alone some 80 million unintended pregnancies have been averted, while 26.8 million unsafe abortions and 111,000 maternal deaths have been prevented. The report also found that family planning increasingly is a global development priority, with donor governments having increased bilateral funding for family planning by a third since 2012.
"Three years ago, the global community set an ambitious goal. More than that, we made a promise," said Gates. "A promise to a hundred and twenty million women and girls that by 2020 they would have access to family planning services and contraceptives if they wanted it. 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."