2012 may be remembered for many things good and bad, but one undeniably positive story is the way in which family planning and women's reproductive choices and rights came back into the sunlight after too many years in the shadows of the global health and development agenda.
The July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning featured pledges of new resources to help some of the 220 million women in the world who want the means to plan the timing and size of their families, but aren't able. But even more crucial than new money was new advocacy. Presidents Kikwete of Tanzania, Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda took the podium personally to embrace the cause of saving women's lives through access to modern contraception, as did Melinda Gates, whose powerful leadership voice will resonate for years on this topic.
Here at the Annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, family planning also is finding its moment in the sunlight. African leaders and their development partners are discussing the best ways to meet unmet contraception need, to communicate about the benefits to women, families and societies that come from meeting that need, and to celebrate the African leadership successes in this struggle in order to inspire others. Being discussed as well is how family planning and reproductive health must be reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals now being cultivated in order to replace the current Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015.
The London Summit set the objective of meeting the needs of 120 million women for modern contraception by 2020. And every participant in that Summit knows how hard it will be to achieve this objective. There are decades of work ahead for all those who care about women, their health and the survival and health of their children, both to catch up with the tremendous unmet need, and thereafter to keep up with the need. Family planning's 2012 momentum is being felt even here in Davos, a place which is more used to hearing about corporate earnings and yield curves than birth spacing and long-acting reversible contraception.
"Committed to improving the state of the world," is the Davos mantra. Family planning is rightfully part of the scene.