A High-Level Conversation on Family Planning at the European Development Days

On 7-8 June 2017, the European Commission hosted the European Development Days, a yearly two-day event that gathers development professionals and voices from all over the world. Countdown 2030 Europe was a partner in organizing one of the key high-level panels entitled “Key solutions for development: family planning and youth empowerment”.

The panel featured the following speakers:

  • Alexander de Croo, Vice-Prime Mister and Minister for Development Cooperation – Belgium
  • Ambassador Dr. Augustine Mahiga, Minister for Foreign Affairs– Tanzania
  • Esenam Amuzu – EDD Young Leader
  • Jackson Chekweko, Executive Director– Reproductive Health Uganda
  • Sietske Steneker, Director– UNFPA Brussels Office
  • Mattias Lundberg, Head Global Partnership for Youth and Development – World Bank Group

The event was moderated by Slavea Chankova, a journalist at The Economist.

A critical message that emerged from the panel discussion was that a young population does not automatically result in economic growth and a more just and equal society. Investments in basic social services such as health and education are vital to allow young people to access their rights and see their needs attended to. Minister Mahiga acknowledged that “young people need to determine their own narrative” and young leader Esenam Amuzu stressed the importance of intergenerational dialogue and giving youth “the chance to make informed choices”.  

Gender equality is far from being a reality, worldwide. At the current rate of progress, the World Economic Forum foresees the gender gap to close entirely around 2186. Sietske Steneker from UNFPA insisted on the role of young girls in attaining sustainable development and “access to voluntary family planning” is a major prerequisite. Reproductive Health Uganda’s Jackson Chekweko shared the work realized in Uganda by his organization that serves over one million women and girls yearly by offering them comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

The panel also tackled the challenges that affect sexual and reproductive health and family planning despite the critical nature of such services if we are to attain sustainable development globally. Minister Alexander de Croo reminded the audience of the mobilization around the She Decides initiative and the need to sustain a global movement. “There is an incredible openness to discuss this. Leaders should therefore not shy away from engaging in the conversation,” he added.

Countdown 2030 Europe and IPPF EN in cooperation with UNFPA published a factsheet gathering key information on the demographic dividend as well as important figures, quotes and facts about gender equality, family planning and youth empowerment. You can access the factsheet (PDF) on our website.

You can follow what happened on social media on the event’s Storify.

The full video of the event – including sign language interpretation – is available on EuropeAid’s Youtube channel.

By Aurore Guieu, Advocacy Advisor, IPPF EN