July 12, 2012 — At the London Summit on Family Planning on Wednesday, governments pledged a total of $2.6 billion over the next eight years toward expanding family planning services to an additional 120 million women in developing nations, the London Guardian reports (Tran, London Guardian, 7/11).
According a press release from the summit, providing contraceptive services to 120 million women is estimated to cost $4.3 billion. The $2.6 billion in new commitments announced on Wednesday exceeded the summit's financial goal for contributing to that expansion, the release said (DFID/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation release, 7/11).
The conference, organized by the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed to refocus international attention on family planning, which has faded in part because of ideological battles and increased attention on issues like HIV/AIDS (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/11).
Worldwide, an estimated 220 million women who want contraception do not have access. The unmet need for contraception is tied to maternal mortality and other negative health outcomes, the summit's organizers noted (Wickham, Reuters, 7/11). The commitments made at the summit mean that by 2020, there will be 200,000 fewer women who die in pregnancy or childbirth, 110 million fewer unintended pregnancies, 50 million fewer abortions and three million fewer infants who die within one year of being born, the summit organizers said (DFID/Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation release, 7/11).
In addition to the funding announcements from wealthy nations, more than 20 developing nations pledged to support women's rights to improve access to contraception and to expand family planning programs.
Theo Sowa, interim CEO at African Women's Development Fund, emphasized the importance of reproductive rights to ensuring that the funding is effective. "Commitments are wonderful, but for them to work women have to be central in decision making," Sowa said (London Guardian, 7/11).
The Gates Foundation pledged $560 million as part of the campaign (Reuters, 7/11). Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $50 million from his foundation (Seifman, New York Post, 7/12).
The U.S., which has committed to spending $640 million toward global family planning this year, did not pledge additional funds at the summit (London Guardian, 7/11).