European Parliament (Brussels), 10th July 2012.
Ahead of the London Family Planning Summit on 11th July, hopes within the development community are high that a new era in International Development is about to begin. At a reception entitled “Everyone has the right to family Planning” hosted by Member of the European Parliament Antonyia Parvanova, four expert speakers from different cultural and professional backgrounds emphasised how vital it is for all women to have access to Family Planning, and to be allowed their human right to decide on the number, timing and spacing of their children.
The guest speakers were Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary for the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Zimbabwe, Kate Gilmore, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA, and Marleen Temmerman, Belgian Senator and future Director for Reproductive Health and research at the WHO. A final guest speaker was Dr. Rachel Addato, Member of the Israeli Knesset and gynaecologist. Each speaker gave their perspective on the right to Family Planning, and the range of obstacles they have seen women facing in realising this right. The event was moderated by prominent Belgian figure, sexologist and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Goedele Liekens.
They key message of all the speakers was that 222 million women are being denied the fundamental right that most women in Europe have long taken for granted – the right to decide upon their family size, and to enjoy the liberties that come as a result. Sen.Temmerman illustrated this point with her account of Atieno, the first young woman she saw dying at childbirth in 1988 in in Kenya; fifteen years old, after three days in labour and dying unnecessarily of a ruptured uterus: “Like many other women she had no say in her own fate: no pills, no condoms and not even the strength to say no.”
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda explained the difficulties faced by her and her 10 brothers and sisters growing up in Zimbabwe: “As the youngest of 11 children, the only reason why I am here is because I was able receive an education, and could access Family Planning.” She stressed how the needs of girls and young women must be taken into account, and how using Family Planning and having faith are not mutually exclusive.
Kate Gilmore then spoke about Family Planning and human dignity: “If today we took away all contraceptives from Europe, tell me that your lives and your dignity would not be affected,” and finished by saying: “Sex happens. Let’s make it safe.” The final speaker, Rachel Addato, gave an insight into the challenges facing Israel’s population. She explained how Israel’s government is managing to protect the reproductive wellbeing of its most vulnerable women in a challenging multicultural context.
Following the Family Planning Summit 120 million women stand to gain access to modern methods of family planning, and to be able to take their lives and destinies into their own hands. Family planning empowers women within society and enables them and their families to contribute actively to development in all its forms. It is also one of the most cost-efficient investments that can be made, as every Euro invested in family planning saves four Euros that would have been spent in treating the consequences of not having access to family planning. Moreover thousands of mothers’ and children’s lives will be saved by ensuring that all pregnancies are the result of a conscious choice by a woman to have a child.
Antonyia Parvanova, MEP, was delighted to host the event and to welcome MEPs, their support staff and representatives of the NGO community among the 90 guests who attended.
For any further questions do not hesitate to contact Eddie Wright (EPF): email@example.com