The 2017 Family Planning Summit in July was a tremendous high point for the entire FP2020 community: a global moment of solidarity, celebration, and renewal. We gathered to take stock of how far we’ve come, make plans for the road ahead, and renew our pledge to ensure that women and girls are able to decide for themselves whether and when to use modern contraception. A total of 74 commitment makers stepped forward with new and renewed commitments to fund, expand, and support rights-based family planning—including 25 new partners making FP2020 commitments for the first time. It was the single largest expansion of the FP2020 partnership since this movement began.

But the past year has also been marked by uncertainty and sorrow. In June, just weeks before the Summit, we lost a colleague, a friend, and a guiding light of the family planning movement, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. As the executive director of UNFPA, Dr. Osotimehin also served as the co-chair of the FP2020 Reference Group from the earliest days of this initiative. His wise and impassioned leadership was an example for us all. Dr. Osotimehin dedicated his life to the rights of women and girls. He believed profoundly that every woman and girl on earth must be empowered to grow, thrive, and shape her own life. We carry his legacy with us in our hearts and in our work.

This community is united, resilient, and ready to meet the future.

The family planning community has also been buffeted by political transitions that signal changes to the international development framework—changes that will, at best, prove challenging for our sector. The expanded Mexico City Policy (which restricts funding to more reproductive health organizations than ever before), reduced funding to UNFPA, and shifting donor priorities create an uncertain environment for family planning and broader health programs around the world.

These uncertainties compound existing challenges that we are already working hard to overcome: developing country-led sustainable financing models for family planning; strengthening the supply chain for commodities and expanding the range of high-quality contraceptives available; meeting the reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth; and reaching the hardest to reach—the poor, the marginalized, and the displaced.

But as the Summit demonstrated so clearly, this community is united, resilient, and ready to meet the future. The outpouring of energy and commitment at the Summit was exhilarating. It was a privilege to witness the dedication of the family planning stalwarts—the policymakers, program managers, service providers, and advocates—who work tirelessly year in and year out to build strong, sustainable, rights-based family planning programs. It was inspiring to hear the voices of young people who are stepping up to take charge of their own futures. Most encouraging of all, perhaps, was the realization of how far we’ve come since 2012:

  • Countries are setting the pace of progress, leading the way with commitments that are more detailed, targeted, actionable, and measurable than ever before.
  • FP2020 partners are poised to deploy next-generation solutions in supply chain strengthening, financing, data collection, and contraceptive technology.
  • Adolescents and youth are now front and center on the agenda, with dozens of commitments prioritizing their needs. Young people are also leading the agenda: participating in high-level forums, conducting new research, and engaging in advocacy efforts with decision makers.
  • New initiatives from governments and donors are tightly targeted to fill gaps, shore up weak spots, and deliver more services to more women and girls, even in humanitarian settings.
  • The 11 groundbreaking Global Goods announced at the Summit have the potential to catalyze progress across the entire family planning sector.

And the Summit in London wasn’t the only exciting breakthrough of the year. SheDecides, launched in reaction to the Mexico City Policy, is evolving into a global movement to support and defend women’s rights. Canada’s Global Adolescent Health Conference inaugurated the development of a global roadmap for adolescent health. The African Union’s Year of the Demographic Dividend reflects the growing recognition that better health for young people, including access to voluntary family planning, is crucial for development. And Every Woman Every Child launched the 2020 Partners’ Framework, which aligns action and accelerates progress across the entire Every Woman Every Child movement.

All this is evidence of the broad, deep, sustaining strength of the family planning and reproductive health communities. There may be uncertainties on the horizon, daily outrages in the headlines, and challenges we should have solved a long time ago, but our community’s dedication to women and girls is stronger than ever.

For FP2020, the way ahead is clear. We have dozens of new Summit commitments to follow through on. We’re going to keep a sharp focus on rights, accountability, the financing landscape, and the evolving global pathway that links FP2020 progress to universal access to reproductive health by 2030. We’re going to support our partner countries, who are the leaders of this movement and the pacesetters of progress. And we will leave no one behind. We will redouble our efforts to reach those who are too often overlooked: adolescents and youth, the poor and the marginalized, women and girls in crisis settings.

Together we’re going to step boldly into the next phase of this movement. As we do so, let’s remind ourselves that FP2020 is more than just a working platform for development. We are a community dedicated to the rights of women and girls, and we affirm those values every day. We believe that every woman and girl, no matter where she lives, deserves the chance to grow and thrive, to work and earn, to plan her own family and shape her own future. FP2020 builds on more than 50 years of dedicated work by the global reproductive health sector to bring contraception within reach of women and girls around the world. This community carries that movement forward—now more than ever.

Dr. Chris Elias
President of Global Development
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Natalia Kanem
Executive Director