Developing Countries: Family Planning

International Development written question – answered on 11th July 2012.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Chair, Committee of Selection

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development

(1) if he will use the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning to consider the link between child marriage and fertility and maternal health outcomes;

(2) if he will encourage Governments and donors making commitments at the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning to also commit to fund projects addressing early and forced marriage, sexual violence and social barriers to contraceptive access;

(3) if he will be encourage Governments and donors making commitments at the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning to also commit to implement legal and policy changes that will address early and forced marriage;

(4) if he will encourage Governments and donors making commitments at the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning to also commit to implement legal and policy changes that will address social barriers to women and girls accessing family planning and other health services in developing countries.

Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan The Minister of State, Department for International Development

The London Summit on Family Planning aims to support the right of women and girls to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they have. At its core is the objective of saving lives and empowering girls and women to be able to make decisions about their own future. Over the last year, UK investment has given 1 million additional women in developing countries access to modern methods of contraception. Much more needs to be done, which is why we are co-hosting the summit with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The summit aims to galvanise unprecedented political and financial commitment to meet the unmet need of an additional 120 million women who want to avoid or delay pregnancy. Significant political, policy and financial commitments by donors and developing countries are anticipated.

Addressing wider social and cultural barriers to women's and girls' empowerment will be essential to achieving the summit's objectives. Building the support of men, families, and communities, and ensuring laws and policies are in place to support women's and girls' empowerment and their sexual and reproductive health and rights, is critical.

The summit recognises the link between violence against women and girls, coerced sex and unintended pregnancies. There are an estimated 14 million births to adolescents every year, before they are physically, emotionally or economically prepared. Many of these girls are married. Girls who can delay marriage and their first pregnancy are at less risk of death or disability from complications arising from pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortion, as these are a leading cause of death among young women aged 15 to 19. They are also more likely to stay in school and secure productive employment.

There will be a focus on these issues throughout the different sessions of the summit itself on 11 July. Commitments sought by the summit include measures to address these wider issues and it is anticipated that participants will make specific commitments to address social and cultural barriers.

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