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Can London Summit Broaden Discussion Of Family Planning To Include Needs Of Young Women?

“I find [a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children] particularly interesting because it broadens the debate” over family planning by discussing not only the logistics of providing modern contraceptives to women in need, but “the young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, who risk their lives and those of their babies if they become pregnant inside or outside of marriage,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She notes that the report says complications from pregnancy are the leading killer of women ages 15 to 19 and infants born to women under 20 are at a much greater risk of dying before their first birthday than those born to older women. Boseley writes, “The low status of girls and their power to make decisions over their own bodies is fundamental,” and family planning and education can help empower women.

The upcoming London summit on family planning, co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development, “will hopefully be a golden moment,” she writes. The sponsors “want it to be the launch of a global movement for family planning,” Boseley continues, adding, “That will have to encompass the needs and lack of empowerment of girls as well as older mothers, and the solutions lie way beyond the family planning clinic.” She concludes, “If the summit can raise expectations and aspirations for girls and women all over the world as well as raising money, it will be doing a great job” (6/26).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.