Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation Bert Koenders on the Future of Family PlanningSeptember 22, 2009 By Gib Clarke
“I think everybody…will agree that family planning is one of the biggest success stories of development cooperation. I also consider the paradigm shift in this field from top-down family planning (FP) to programs of reproductive health (RH) and rights for couples and individuals adopted in Cairo in 1994 to be a success story,” said Bert Koenders, the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, in a statement prepared for a roundtable discussion at the Wilson Center on future strategies in FP and RH.
Looking beyond the successes of the past, Koenders identifies a series of opportunities and challenges facing the RH community. He cites as the first opportunity the potential to “join forces” with the United States to meet Millennium Development Goal #5 (which focuses on maternal, sexual, and reproductive health, and family planning). He calls MDG 5 “the mother of all MDGs” and says that if it is not met, “then the other MDGs will not be attained either. It is smart economics to invest in MDG 5.” Other opportunities include public-private partnerships and the “growing awareness” in developed and developing countries alike.
The challenges, however, are significant. Youth, he notes, account for half of the world’s population and face barriers in access to reproductive health information and commodities. To overcome these barriers, we must first identify what adolescents and unmarried women and couples need, and recognize their rights to the same quality services as older and married women and couples. Koenders also says there is a growing opposition in many parts of the world to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and that programs must address this in order to be successful.
The roundtable discussion, to be held on September 22 at the Wilson Center, features Musimbi Kanyoro of the Packard Foundation, José “Oying” Rimon of the Gates Foundation, and Scott Radloff of the U.S. Agency for International Development.