Burnet Institute has welcomed the Australian Government’s pledge to increase funding to AUD$33.5million over four years to reduce the unmet need for family planning in the Pacific.
Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone announced at the international Family Planning Summit 2017 in London - #HerFuture – that the funding would support the UN Population Fund (UNPFA) expand access to contraception and family planning services for women and girls in the Pacific.
In the lead-in to the Summit, Burnet Institute had joined with other members of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium (ISRHRC) in calling for the Australian government to increase funding to this critical area.
Burnet Institute’s Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, Dr Elissa Kennedy said it was very pleasing that this call has been heard.
“This funding increase is very positive news, particular as it will help address the very high rates of unmet need for family planning in some Pacific countries,” Dr Kennedy said.
“We need to strengthen commitments to reach the women and girls who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using effective contraception.
“Enabling women to time, space and limit their pregnancies is one of the most cost-effective interventions in global health and development, with far reaching impacts for women’s empowerment and gender equality.”
At the Summit, more than USD$2.5 billion in new funding for global family planning services was pledged by governments, donors, civil society groups and private sector partners.
Australia’s funding commitment focuses on Pacific countries that Dr Stone said faced particular challenges in providing access to family planning.
“Small, highly dispersed populations, poor transport links and high costs have contributed to low – and in some cases declining – contraceptive prevalence rates and growing levels of adolescent pregnancies in eight of the 14 pacific island countries,” Dr Stone told the Summit.
“This funding will support UNFPA’s transformative agenda in the Pacific to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality.
“Together, UNFPA and Australia will work with our Pacific partners to reduce the unmet need for family planning towards zero by 2030.”
The Australian Government has “a steadfast and ongoing commitment to be at the forefront of efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” which is outlined in its Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy.
Dr Stone outlined that Australia will continue to work with partners to contribute to the Family Planning 2020 goal to enable 120 million more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use modern contraception by 2020.
Find out more?
• The critical importance of family planning in the region generated attention throughout Australia, with media coverage in the Huffington Post, SBS World News, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Whimn Network and on ABC Radio National, in the lead up to the Summit.
• The global contributions to family planning pledged at the Summit are online at FP 2020.
• Follow Burnet Institute and other members of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights consortium on Facebook and Twitter @BurnetInstitute.