July 11, 2011


Statement by Population Action International President & CEO Suzanne Ehlers at the London Summit on Family Planning

“The London Summit is an historic opportunity to help the millions of women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but lack contraception. Providing access to contraception saves lives and gives women an opportunity to create a better future for themselves and their families. We applaud the Gates Foundation and UK Department for International Development for hosting this summit to strengthen cost-effective family planning programs around the world which support the development goals we all share.

“We also applaud USAID for its family planning leadership over the last 40 years and its promising initiatives announced today. These family planning programs are supported by the vast majority of Americans from both sides of the political aisle.

“The new Lancet series on family planning shows that contraception can reduce maternal deaths by more than 100,000 per year, giving policymakers confidence to take bold action. The economic analysis shows that women are the cornerstone of development efforts and their participation in the workforce is essential.

“Of all the intractable problems in the world, this is one we can solve. As a health supplies coordinator in Uganda told us, ‘In one day, Coca Cola can transport their products, and people drink in the villages. Why don’t we do it in one day for women to have access to contraceptives?’

“Today is also World Population Day, a good reminder that population conversations may start with numbers, but they are really about people. Twenty-first century family planning does not focus on reducing fertility for the sake of limiting population growth but instead, because there is value in family planning as a manifestation of women’s choice and empowerment.  Family planning is central to 21st century sustainability.”

Ms. Ehlers’ most recent blog on the Summit can be found here.


For more information contact:

In London, Tony Kerridge:, +44 208 509 1103
In Washington, Michael Khoo:, 202-669-7911