News story

Family planning: UK aid saves a woman’s life every two hours

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British aid will save the life of a woman or girl in the developing world every two hours for the next eight years.

British aid will save the life of a woman or girl in the developing world every two hours for the next eight years, Prime Minister David Cameron said today.

Britain’s support, which comes from the existing aid budget, will provide an additional 24 million girls and women in the world’s poorest countries with family planning services between now and 2020. This will prevent the deaths of 42,000 girls and women for whom an unintended pregnancy carries the risk of fatal consequences.

The Prime Minister announced the commitment at today’s London Summit on Family Planning, hosted by the British Government and Melinda Gates, which aims to halve the number of girls and women in developing countries who want - but lack access to - modern contraception.

Andrew Mitchell urged partners attending the London Summit on Family Planning to follow Britain’s lead in doubling efforts to reach the goal of providing an additional 120 million girls and women in the poorest countries with the ability to plan their families.

Developing countries are joining the Summit and will make commitments to strengthen and promote women’s rights to family planning and increase access to information, services and supplies.

Britain’s commitment will help avert over 20 million unintended pregnancies - equivalent to one every ten seconds - by enabling women to choose whether, when and how many children to have.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

The health and rights of girls and women are front and centre of Britain’s aid programme. Being able to plan the size of her family is a fundamental right that we believe all women should have.

British support will mean that millions of women who are currently unable to access or use family planning information, services and supplies will be able to decide, freely and for themselves, whether, when and how many children to have.

Women who are able to use modern contraceptives are better able to care for their families and are more likely to be economically active, benefitting their families and their communities alike.

A woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes - 99% of them in the developing world. Up to one third of these pregnancies were unintended.

For the many millions of mothers-to-be who are still children themselves, early pregnancy inevitably means giving up any chance of an education that would allow them to support themselves and their family in the future.
British support will contribute to ensuring that governments and partners are keeping clinics stocked with a wide range of affordable, high quality contraceptives to enable women to use a method of their choice.

It will also support governments, civil society organisations and religious groups to tackle the social barriers to family planning with education, counselling, information campaigns and ensure safeguards against coercion.

Family planning is excellent value for money. Every £1 spent on family planning can save governments nearly £6 on healthcare spending, housing, water and other public services.