Fighting for the Right to Choose – IFMSA at the International Conference on Family Planning

“We as civil society want Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights to be included in Universal Health Coverage and we have to be unapologetic. It is not only a matter of cost-effectiveness, it is also about rights, about making sure that no one is left behind, especially not the ones most marginalised.” That were the words of Ana Maria Bejar, the Director of Advocacy at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, during the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). The conference took place between 12th and 15th of November 2018 in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.

Our LRA Frederike Booke attended the conference on behalf of IFMSA to join the advocacy movement for reproductive rights, especially the right to family planning. The right to family planning means that each woman can decide freely over the number (“how many?”) and the spacing (“when?”) of her children. Did you know that this goal is also part of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Ensuring Health and Well-Being?
However, in all parts of the world do people still have more or less children than they would like to. Reasons for that vary: Restricted access to health education and services, financial barriers, gaps in social protection, gender inequality and the denial of reproductive rights for young people or single women are only some of them.
The ICFP discussed all these perspectives under the common goal of realising reproductive rights for everyone, no matter the age, income, marriage status or any other factors. Ministers, civil society organisations, educational institutes, health professionals and advocates came together to discuss their commonalities – and more importantly – their responsibilities to achieve this.

For IFMSA, the conference was a great chance to get in touch with our partners and other organisations with the same vision. We met with Medical Students for Choice, with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, with our partner Ipas, with the SRHR Africa Trust, with the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning, with UNFPA and many others to exchange our ideas and our projects to make family planning a reality.
Furthermore, we were part of the youth movement in the conference and attended the youth pre-conference with about 600 young people that showed that our generation is the one that turns the page, that ignites a conversation about sexuality and that wants to self-determine our future. On day 2 of the conference, we had the chance to join the plenary where young people addressed family planning from all kinds of views in the form of story-telling.
Finally, we were so proud to see how many medical students from our NMOs made their way to the conference and it was inspiring to hear about the partnerships and projects happening on local and national level!

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