These champions are found at all levels, and come in all shapes and sizes. There are individuals who take a risk and raise their voices for family planning, even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular. There are community groups and organizations, people who band together to explore the obstacles that are keeping women from realizing their right to family planning, and work to break down these barriers. There are national champions: developing country members of parliament and government ministers who get the importance of family planning for women to achieve their potential, and are committed to lifting up 50 percent of their populations. And there are world champions: global actors who are cooperating across borders to ensure women everywhere have access, and engaging at the United Nations and other forums to put women at the center of the post-2015 development agenda.
Individual Champion"Protecting access to family planning services for all women must be a priority, and permanently ending the Global Gag Rule is an important step."
Community Champion "Family planning needs must be taken seriously in the budgeting process. This is the only way of ensuring improved availability of contraceptives and better access for all Kenyan women."
National Champion "The rapid increase in population size does not only exacerbate the degradation of the environment and natural resources, it also compounds poverty in families, and undermines the capacity of the government to provide quality social services for all Malawians."
Global Champion Ensuring access to contraceptives is only one piece of respecting and fulfilling the reproductive rights of women and girls. In order to decide if and when to become pregnant, women need comprehensive and quality family planning services.
In too many parts of the world, lack of information, stigma, stock-outs, physical obstacles, and insufficient funding and political will are just some of the barriers that stand in the way of a woman’s fundamental right to make her own childbearing decisions. In 2013, PAI built champions at every step to remove these obstacles.
From the halls of the U.N. where global development goals are hashed out, to capital cities where policies are made and funding allocated, all the way to clinics where quality supplies and services are provided -- our champions smooth the path for family planning to go from concept to concrete action. Each barrier that is removed, each obstacle that is overcome, is a building block to creating the most important champion of all: an empowered woman.
Family planning is about so much more than pills and condoms. When a girl doesn’t have to walk for hours to the nearest clinic because there is enough money to build one in her community, she can access family planning. When the clinic has the method she wants and provides her with the information she needs without stigma or judgment, she doesn’t become pregnant before she is ready. She can stay in school, participate in the workforce and be a force for change in her community. She can become a champion of her own life.
It's an unfortunate reality that 222 million women around the world can't access contraceptives - often simply because clinics can't keep a variety of methods in stock. PAI worked with the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition to create "Empty Shelves, Empty Hands," to tell the stories of women who leave family planning clinics empty handed.