Dispatch

Family Planning Key to Economic Progress

27 January 2016

A key minister in the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has argued that there is a close link between family planning and economic progress, an issue that has recently become the subject of national and global attention.

 

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“Family planning has really helped our economic improvement. [In the past 10 years] Indonesia has transformed from a low-income country to a middle-income country and the success of family planning has been the key. Many parts of the world have acknowledged that part of Indonesia’s [economic] success is because of family planning,” said Finance Minister Bambang Soemantri Brodjonegoro during a speech at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Tuesday. 

 

“In terms of policy and my position as a minister, we are committed to making health, including family planning, one of the important pillars of economic politics,” he said.

 

To revitalize its family planning program, the Indonesian government has increased its budget allocation from US$65.9 million in 2006 to $263.7 million in 2014.

 

Indonesian family planning has become a role model for many developing countries after Indonesia succeeded in reducing total fertility rates and population growth.

 

The ICFP, held between Jan. 25 and Jan. 29, is one of the world’s largest international gatherings focused on family planning. The conference serves as a platform for the global family planning community to share insights and chart a collective path forward.

 

Tuesday’s sessions stressed the urgency of global and local investments in human capital and health to meet family planning needs and drive progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Many speakers at the forum underscored the importance of investing in family planning for both economic progress and for achieving the health and gender-related SDGs, each of which requires improved access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive services.

 

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“Family planning is about the rights of women and their capacity to make decisions about their health,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, the under secretary-general of the UN and the executive director of UNFPA.

“It is the most significant investment one can make to promote human capital development, combat poverty and harness a demographic dividend to contribute to equitable and sustainable economic development. Investing in girls and women is the right thing to do. When you allow girls to have education and women access to employment, any country in the world will gain tremendous economic benefits,” Babatunde said.

Family planning allowed women to space out childbirth, have fewer children and enter the workforce, he said.

In his opening remarks, Jokowi said that “all women and girls must be empowered to choose whether and when they want to have children, so that mothers and their babies have better opportunities for better lives”.

In Indonesia, the cost of contraceptives can create major challenges for family planning programs. To solve family planning problems, Jokowi emphasized the importance of investing in Kampung KB, the “village approach”, by increasing access to long acting contraceptives (LARCs) and by providing free services and peer education programs.

 

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.