Access to contraception is a basic human right to which too few of us around the world have access. The 2012 FP2020 Summit in London, which brought together the U.K. government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and over 20 national governments, agreed to help knock down the economic, political and cultural barriers that prevent women from having a say in how and when they have children. FP2020 is committed to providing access to contraception and educating women on safe and cost-effective methods of birth control. It is working to provide universal availability to voluntary contraceptive materials and services. Through promoting transparency and neutrality in government efforts to establish these resources, the Summit tracks data to ensure that the most at-risk, underprivileged women and girls are reached by their efforts.
To help provide materials and information to these women, the countries have pledged a combined $2.6 billion in funding. Its goal is to increase access to birth control and other contraceptives to 120 million women by 2020. To accomplish this goal, the Summit plans to:
- Track progress on fulfilling financial and political commitments through the U.N. Secretary General’s Every Women Every Child program
- Report on the progress of individual countries toward the FP2020 goals
- Identify obstacles standing in the way of Summit goals and propose solutions to them
- Confirm contraceptive materials are distributed evenly and accepted voluntarily; ensure that there is no force in giving out and taking the materials
- Publish annual updates on the progress of the Summit in individual countries
The predicted number of women at a reproductive age is 250 million, globally. Thus, the Summit commitments require innovation, such as technological development. One such invention is CycleBeads, a phone app that helps a woman track her menstrual cycle to plan for or prevent pregnancy. Developed by the Institute for Reproductive Health and iHub research, CycleBeads is available through both an online and text-based service and is based off the Standard Days Method for family planning that has been in use in the United States for decades. This invention has started in Nairobi, Kenya and will aid in the fulfillment of the FP2020 goals.
Marie Stopes International, an organization that attended the Summit, has recently pledged to provide contraceptives to 12 million women by 2020, reaching 10 percent of the population outlined by the FP2020 goal. Through partnerships and advocacy, Marie Stopes has already reached 3 million women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through technological innovation and commitment by governments and organizations, the FP2020 goals, although lofty, can become reality.
– Jenna Wheeler