David Cameron says developing family planning strategies are fundamental to tackling global poverty. The Prime Minister made his comments as the Government pledged to donate more than £1 billion to help family planning services in the developing world.
British aid will be doubled for eight years, which will help 24 million girls and women in the world's poorest countries.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said enabling women to access contraception facilities will "transform the world." Speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning he said:
"I think this is the way we transform the world. We will enable half of the women in the world today who want contraception but cannot get it to be able to decide for themselves whether they have children. This will be a remarkable achievement"
ActionAid has welcomed the Government's commitment to working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase access to family planning for women across the world, but warned that many women are prevented from using existing services due to pressures from their husbands and communities.
Rowen Harvey from ActionAid said the Summit must focus on why women are "blocked" from using contraceptives:
"As long as women need permission from their husbands or are facing violence then these great efforts will not be sufficient.
The Summit must take practical steps to ensure women are always able to control when or whether they become pregnant. This means committing new resources for the measures that are proven to work in tackling violence and promoting equality between men and women.”
The summit on family planning hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has three main objectives:
- Revitalise global commitments to family planning and access to contraceptives as a cost-effective and transformational development priority
- Improve the access and distribution of contraceptive supplies
- Remove and reduce barriers to family planning
It is estimated that 220 million women around the world do not have access to contraceptives or information on them.
In some countries women need written consent from their husbands before they can talk to a doctor about contraception while in others, family planning services are not offered to adolescents or unmarried women.
In developing countries, contraceptives are frequently out of stock when women try to get them.
Delegates at the summit are hoping to get 120 million women better access to contraceptives, information and services by 2020.
– Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell
The health and rights of girls and women are front and centre of Britain's aid programme. Being able to plan the size of her family is a fundamental right that we believe all women should have.
British support will mean that millions of women who are currently unable to access or use family planning information, services and supplies will be able to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children to have.
– Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell
Women who are able to use modern contraceptives are better able to care for their families and are more likely to be economically active, benefiting their families and their communities alike.
Aid for family planning will increase from £90 million each year to £180 million - more than £1.4 billion over eight years
The Department for International Development (DFID) said the increase in aid will save a woman's life every two hours.
The Government will today pledge to donate more than £1 billion to help family planning services in the developing world.
In a bid to help 24 million girls and women in the world's poorest countries, British aid will be doubled for eight years, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell will announce.
Mr Mitchell will make the announcement as health leaders from around the world gather at the London Family Planning Summit.
The summit, which is hosted by the Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also aims to encourage poor countries to develop their policies to support the rights of women.