See all our coverage of the 2012 Global Family Planning Summit here.
Albert Einstein once said, “Never memorize something that you can look up.” As we head into the July 11th London Summit on Family Planning, we can focus more on concepts than numbers, because we know this: 222 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy, but lack effective contraception. The London Summit will aim to meet the contraceptive needs of 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries. These “new users” will cost an additional $4 billion in resources over the next eight years.
What we don’t know, or rather have a hard time remembering, is that opportunities like this can become their own special universe. More attention (and criticism) is placed on the inputs —- such as framing, messaging, and logistics –- than on the more important outputs, meaning those 120 million women and their needs.
First, this groundbreaking global convening is adding something substantial, so let’s calibrate our expectations while trying to hit it out of the park. Those close to the planning of the Summit have said from the beginning: July 11th is the promise; what follows is the fulfillment of that promise. I take this to mean that the real work happens after we leave London. This will be accountability for donors, follow-up on pledges, and the design of a funding mechanism that promotes and protects rights, access, equity, choice and quality of care.
I haven’t before seen an opportunity like this, and we must be unified behind our shared agenda that every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her own future. It is up to us to talk about these interventions as life-saving for individuals, transformative for communities, and cost-effective and multiplier investments for nations. It is up to us to make it work, in real time, and in real terms.