“Family planning saves lives, even in times of crisis,” said Gwen K. Young, Managing Director at the Global Emergency Response Coalition at a Wilson Center event on October 8 on the importance of providing family planning and reproductive health services in humanitarian settings. Speakers from Save the Children, CARE, the International Rescue Committee, and FP2020 spoke to programmatic successes, innovative solutions, and local partnerships in fragile settings. Young highlighted that 1 in 70 people worldwide need humanitarian assistance and a quarter of these are women and girls of reproductive age. All told, more than 30 million women and girls in 42 countries.
Sixty percent of maternal deaths occur in countries experiencing conflict, displacement, or natural disasters. Family planning needs do not disappear during a crisis. In fact, these needs may grow more urgent as women may want to avoid pregnancy particularly during a crisis or period of displacement. As the average length of a crisis situation is nine years, speakers emphasized the importance of promoting sustainable solutions and programs to meet women’s and girls’ family planning needs in humanitarian settings.
In light of the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Jennifer Schlecht, Senior Advisor of Emergency Preparedness and Response at FP2020, spoke about the progress that has been made in the last 25 years. Family planning services were completely unavailable in refugee settings, and the needs of women of reproductive age were often ignored, according to the 1994 report, Refugee Women and Reproductive Health Care: Reassessing Priorities. The past decade has seen progress on family planning in humanitarian contexts, said Schlecht.