Getting Ready for the London Summit on Family Planning

Wondering what that #FPSummit hashtag is all about?

It’s for the London Summit on Family Planning, a one-day gathering of world leaders, which aims to broaden access to contraceptives and renew global family planning commitments. The high-level meeting begins tomorrow in London.

Organizers say they’re hoping for commitments and resources that will expand contraceptives to 120 million women and girls by 2020. Reaching that target would reduce the total number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth by more than 200,000.

Leaders from 24 developing countries are expected to attend the summit, which is being co-hosted by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One health minister who is sure to be in attendance is Dr. Agnes Binagwaho. The Rwandan official had to cancel her innovative, weekly Twitter chat because she’ll be en route to the summit:

Dear Tweeters, next week I will not hold the #MinisterMondays dialogue as I will be on a plane to attend the Summit on Family Planning in UK

— Agnes Binagwaho (@agnesbinagwaho) July 7, 2012

A full list of participants and donors can be found here.

The summit will kick off a $4 billion Gates Foundation fundraising campaign, according to the Guardian. Melinda Gates has been on a media blitz ahead of the conference to raise awareness about family planning. In a Financial Times op-ed, Gates writes that this issue has become a priority for her “because the women I meet when I travel consistently tell me that having the power to decide when to have a child is central to achieving their goals in life.” Her piece can be seen here (PDF) in a Financial Times special report on sexual health.

Tomorrow, the summit will be live-streamed beginning at 9:30BST. Also be sure to check out the #FPSummit discussion on Twitter tomorrow during the meeting. The UN Foundation (which provides support for this blog and for which I am now a consultant), the Gates Foundation and other advocates will be participating in a chat from 8:45am to noon EST using the hashtag #FPchat.