BETTER FUTURE FOR ALL

MICHAEL OLIECH: Family planning key to unlocking sustainable development goals

Contributes to more peaceful societies in which all people's needs are more routinely met

In Summary

• It is vital to the achievement of all 17 goals. Some goals focus on ending poverty and promoting economic growth.

• On average each year of education, a girl increases her future earning potential by 10 per cent and gives her children a 10 per cent better chance of surviving infancy.

Family planning pills
MANAGEABLE FAMILIES: Family planning pills
Image: COURTESY

Family planning is essential to unlocking Sustainable Development Goals.

In September 2015, the United Nations launched its sustainable development goals.

Targets 3.7 and 5.6 address sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning.

Most people know that family planning is essential to women's health, but the benefits of family planning go far beyond health.

It is vital to the achievement of all 17 goals. Some goals focus on ending poverty and promoting economic growth.

How does access to contraception help?  Enabling women and girls to plan their pregnancies, lowers healthcare costs, keeps more girls in school, and helps more women stay in the workforce.

When women are more able to contribute to or manage household income, they spend more than men do on food, health, clothing, and education for their children.

This helps economies and families. Family planning can also create a demographic dividend.

Longer lives and smaller families, mean more working-age people supporting fewer young people.

This change reduces costs and increases the country's wealth and productivity. Several goals focus on equity in health and education between genders within countries, and among countries.

More girls than ever have primary education, but a gender gap remains at the secondary level.

Access to comprehensive sex education and contraceptive services help girls delay sexual debut, avoid pregnancy and stay in school.

On average each education year, a girl increases her future earning potential by 10 per cent and gives her children a 10 per cent better chance of surviving infancy. 

Some goals address food, water, and other basic needs. Ensuring that we can feed ourselves, is one of the most pressing development challenges.

Improving access to family planning helps slow population growth, which reduces demand for food and relieves some of the environmental pressures of over-farming, overfishing and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Well-spaced births can also lead to better health for both mothers and babies, such as having healthy birth weight, and stronger bones.

The benefits of birth spacing can have far-reaching effects on childhood, for example by reducing stunting, a key measure of malnutrition.

Planned pregnancies among women who are 18 years or older, tend to result in better breastfeeding, which also has economic, and health benefits.

Many goals focus on the relationships between our natural and built environment.

More than a billion people live in remote areas where agriculture and industry can have a huge effect on the environment.

An approach called integrated population eealth and Environment has the aim of improving access to health services like family planning while managing natural resources in ways that improve human livelihoods and conserve critical ecosystems. 

According to the Universal Access Project, meeting the current global demand for contraception and slowing population growth could get the world a third of the way to the emissions reductions we need by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate disruptions.

Finally, several goals promote peace, justice and global partnership. It's no coincidence that the countries with the fastest-growing populations are also among the poorest and most volatile.

The strain of rapid population growth can threaten fragile states, stability and security.

Family planning can reduce this stress and contribute to more peaceful societies in which all people's needs are more routinely met.  

It has a strong ripple effect across the new development agenda.

It's simply a smart financial investment. The recent Copenhagen Consensus cost-benefit analysis of the 169 proposed targets for the Sustainable Development Goals, brings family planning, second overall for the return on investment.

The SDGs are about protecting our planet and its inhabitants and helping them flourish.

Meeting the demand for voluntary contraceptive services will allow us to take bold leaps toward good lives, and better futures for all,

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris