Even though it hasn’t made the local news yet, the UK government is preparing to host a family planning summit this coming June in London just before the Olympics. Sponsoring the conference will be the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation along with the UNFPA. According to the UNFPA press release, the purpose of the conference is “to generate political commitment and substantial resources to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.”
In a recent blog post about the initiative, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UNFPA had this to say:
The United Kingdom government of David Cameron and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced plans for a summit in London in July to raise funds for voluntary family planning so that everyone who wants it has access to the means to exercise this human right. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, fully supports and is a partner in this historic initiative on an often-overlooked human right.
But what do they mean by family planning as a human right? In a speech Dr. Osotimehin gave before the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Kamapla, Uganda in March, he made it clear that they were talking about contraception.
First, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, and meet unmet need for family planning so that all women are can freely decide the number and timing of their children.
In fact there are currently 215 million women who would like to be using modern forms of contraception, but do not have access to them.
Though not a single UN treaty ever calls contraception a human right or guarantees access to particular forms of family planning, there has been a strong push recently within the UN to replace the words “family planning” with contraception. It would seem that this is part of a larger effort to define family planning as “contraception” and to marginalize the other natural methods that family planning includes. The most recent attempt to replace family planning with contraception was spearhead by the United States during this year’s most important women’s conference at the UN.
Though the UNFPA has called for “contraceptive rights” for some time now, even publishing a briefing paper with the Center for Reproductive Rights on the subject in 2010 titled, “The Rights to Contraceptive Information and Services for Women and Adolescents”, it is still alarming that they continue to do it without any legitimate claim that such a right exists.
It also seems that the main purpose of the conference is t0 launch global campaign for contraception, called the “Golden Moment on Family Planning” (GMFP). According to Dr. Osotimehin, like the conference, it too will focus on closing the gap for the unmet need for family planning by 2020.