Remarks by Ambassador Blake at Fourth Biennial International Conference on Family Planning, Bali
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today. As the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia – and on behalf of the United States Government – I am very pleased to welcome all of you who have come to this fourth biennial International Conference on Family Planning from points all around the globe – researchers, program managers, health care providers, policymakers and advocates alike.
I want to express my government’s appreciation for your steadfast commitment to providing family planning and reproductive health care services, information and supplies to women and men, young people and adolescents worldwide. Many millions enjoy healthier, more productive and prosperous lives today because of your efforts.
And I know that you join me in extending a warm expression of appreciation to our hosts here in Nusa Dua, the Government of Indonesia and Indonesia’s National Population and Family Planning Board.
Ladies and gentlemen, this year’s conference coincides with the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s voluntary family planning program.
Since 1965, USAID has been a leader not just in terms of financial resources, but in advancing new technologies and innovative approaches to increasing access to modern contraception for women around the world. This, in turn, has led to profound health, environmental, economic, and social benefits for countless families and communities.
It is indeed fitting that we highlight this milestone anniversary in Indonesia, a country that has had great success with its own family planning efforts. The United States is proud of our historic partnership with Indonesia’s National Population and Family Planning Coordinating Board – a collaboration that has strengthened the development of a nation and its people.
Motivated by the desire to build a better future, Indonesia embarked upon a commitment to family planning that goes back to1967. In 1970, 17 percent of the Indonesian women surveyed reported that they were satisfied with their family planning method; by 2015, this number has climbed to 80 percent.
As modern contraceptive use has increased across the archipelago, Indonesian women are able to manage the timing and spacing of their pregnancies to achieve the healthiest outcome and their desired family size.
The end result is not only healthier women and families, but also increased enrollment in primary and secondary education for their children as well as better employment opportunities for themselves.
As USAID began phasing out its family planning assistance program – which formally ended in 2006 – we commend Indonesia’s National Population and Family Planning Coordinating Board, along with the Ministry of Health and local governments, continues to support access to these services at provincial and district levels and is committed to maintaining its investment in this important sector.
This investment has paid off in improved health and economic development; indeed, Indonesia has become one of the world’s success stories. These changes did not happen by chance.
The Indonesian government, the private sector, faith-based organizations, the U.S. government, and other donors, local and international, all worked together to increase access to good quality family planning services.
However, globally, there is always more to be done, and in Indonesia, there will continue to be challenges as policy makers move programs forward while adapting to changing population dynamics and an increasingly urban, modern Indonesia.
Today, as we can all see, Indonesia is providing great leadership, not only by hosting this important international gathering, but also working alongside other countries to develop successful family planning programs.
In light of this year’s conference theme, Global Commitments, Local Actions, and the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must intensify our collective efforts to address the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals.
We know all too well that progress on MDG 5 – reducing maternal mortality and providing universal access to reproductive health – lags furthest behind particularly for the poorest and most marginalized people.
Each year 290,000 women and 2.9 million newborns die from largely preventable causes because they lack access to good-quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.
Another 225 million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using contraceptives. The UN estimates that by 2050 this demand will increase by 40 percent as a record number of young people enter their reproductive years.
There is much work ahead of us. To fulfill the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that no one is left behind, we must focus our efforts where they will have the greatest impact – tackling issues like maternal healthcare, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights, including voluntary family planning programs. If we do not, true sustainable development will not be possible.
In closing, I commend all of your continued efforts, which have allowed so many women and young people to have more control over their lives and reach their full potential. I wish you a successful conference and much progress ahead.