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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 10 July 2012

Commissioner Piebalgs to announce new support for family planning: "Women must be empowered to choose the size of their family"

New support which will help to provide additional life-saving, affordable, contraceptive information, services, and supplies to women and girls in the world’s poorest countries was today announced by EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs.

The new €23 million package will form part of the commitment which will be confirmed tomorrow at a family planning summit organised by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with UNFPA, partner country national governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and the research and development community. The European Commission pledge contributes to the summit's goal of providing family planning services to an additional 120 million women by 2020 in the poorest developing countries.

Announcing the support, Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs said: "Helping to provide family planning services is one of the best investments that a country can make into its future. In today's world, all women must have the ability to choose the size of their families. It is about promoting gender equality and women's rights; but it is also about protecting maternal and child health."

€8 million of the funding will go towards the UN Population Fund and will help some of the world's poorest countries to provide specific support to the areas of family planning where it is most needed. It will enable them to provide information and medical supplies such as contraceptives and condoms.

The package will also help to provide contraception when a country has underestimated the number of supplies needed and has run out.

Another €15 million will be made available for NGOs and other civil society groups to promote family planning services. This will also help to inform people about the best choices for family planning and how and where to obtain them and raise awareness on the dangers of using unsafe methods that may harm girls' and women's health.


Between 2007-2011, the European Commission committed on average more than €500 million annually to health projects and programmes. €86 million of this went on family planning.

Over 200 million women and girls in developing countries who want to delay, or avoid becoming pregnant are not using effective methods of contraception, which leads to over 75 million unintended pregnancies every year.

If the 215 million women and girls in developing countries with an unmet need for contraception used modern methods of family planning, unintended pregnancies would fall by more than 70 percent, and each year there would be nearly 100,000 fewer maternal deaths and nearly 600,000 fewer newborn deaths each year.

Similarly, if every woman was able to leave at least a two-year gap between a birth and a subsequent pregnancy, deaths of children under five would fall by 13%. If that gap was three years, such deaths would decrease by 25%.

A good example of how the EU's work on family planning is making a difference to women's lives is the sexual and reproductive health project which it carried out together with the UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in 22 countries across the African, Caribbean and Pacific. Set up to help the most vulnerable people to access sexual and reproductive health services, it trained over 30,000 medical teams, non-health professionals and volunteers in this area. More than 1.6 million people were able to receive family planning services and advice thanks to the project.

For more information

On the European's Commission work on health:

On DFID's family planning summit:

On the sexual and reproductive health project:

Examples of what has been achieved under previous Calls for Proposals in this area include:

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

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