Browse by Theme: Sexual Reproductive & Maternal Health

By Alice Allan and Christina Wegs:

The Family Planning Summit, held in London on 11 July 2017, was a chance to re-energise support for global efforts to reach an additional 120 million women and girls with contraception information and services by 2020. Since the first Family Planning Summit in 2012, there has been progress towards that goal, with an additional 30.2 million women and girls able to have access to modern contraceptive methods. But there is still a long way to go and some major challenges to overcome – including the withdrawal of key donor funding from vital components of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights through the US government’s Global Gag Rule – the elephant in the room at the Summit.

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Just past the halfway point of FP2020 – and looking towards next week’s Family Planning Summit – it’s time to celebrate and showcase progress towards our 2020 commitments but also crucially reflect on what more needs to be done to reach women and girls, especially in emergency settings.

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On 11 July, the international Family Planning Summit will be held in London, hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and UNFPA. One of the Summit’s four priority areas is on reaching the ‘hardest to reach’, including women and girls in humanitarian settings. But why is family planning in emergencies so crucial, and how can it be truly life-saving?

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Her first four children each died of asphyxiation during delivery. The 30-year-old’s fifth – a baby girl – was born safely at home, and against all odds. When the same expectant mother entered Bihar’s district hospital to deliver her sixth baby, she was hoping for a boy. She entered the hospital carrying the hopes and dreams of the many family members waiting outside for the news and, as I bore witness to, her prayers were answered.

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The plight of refugee women both in Europe and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has been largely ignored, characterised by a lack of information and lost in the broader sweep of the humanitarian disaster. This won’t be the first time in history women’s issues were side-lined in light of a bigger cause.

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Blog by Laurie Lee and Ramil Burden (Vice President, Africa and developing countries, GSK):

In the north eastern corner of Bangladesh lies Sunamganj district. A remote area that is underwater for almost half of the year, it is one of the hardest places in the country to be a mother. In 2012, only 11% of births were assisted by a skilled health worker compared to a third across the country, and the maternal mortality rate was double that of the nation as a whole.

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Over the past 20 years much has been done to ensure that responses to sexual violence in emergencies are put in place. Years of advocacy, lobbying and implementation on a shoe-string have ensured that gender-based and sexual violence is at least being talked about in the right places and at the right level (such as last year’s Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, led by William Hague and Angelina Jolie). But are we turning a blind eye to one of the biggest, and most silent, human rights violations of our time?

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