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AboutThis was the third International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) held by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The November 2013 conference was co-hosted by the Gates Institute and the Ministry of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia with a multitude of international and national partners. The first conference was held in Kampala, Uganda in 2009 and convened more than 1,300 participants around the topic of family planning for the first time in twenty years, influencing positive change for family planning policies in Uganda. With over 2,200 participants, the second conference was held in 2011 in Dakar, Senegal and highlighted family planning issues in Francophone Africa. Ethiopia was selected for the third conference because of the country’s strong commitment to family planning and the success it has had in increasing access to family planning (e.g., an almost 100% increase in modern contraceptive prevalence rate among married women from 13.9% in 2005 to 27.3% in 2011) and implementing the cost-effective health extension workers program.  The ICFP is more than a conference; it is a movement and a platform for strategic inflection points in the family planning agenda. The theme for 2013 was Full Access, Full Choice.

Since the first conference on family planning in 2009, the issue has gained a lot of momentum.  The London Summit on Family Planning took place on July 11, 2012, and 69 countries made commitments to family planning. Many countries have held their own family planning symposia to develop strategies to achieve commitments made during the London Summit. The ICFP provides a platform to highlight successes that have been achieved in family planning around the world as well as hurdles that still need to be addressed.

The conference program included an opening reception, daily plenaries, a number of interactive skill-building sessions, panel presentations, poster sessions, a policymaker forum and an exhibit area. Over 3,400 researchers, program implementers, policymakers, advocates, youth leaders, media, and representatives of local and international organizations from 110 countries came together to support the goal of providing all women “Full Access, Full Choice” to life-saving family planning information, supplies and services. Nearly 200 national and international journalists attended the conference, and over 225 original articles have been published as a result of the media campaign. In addition, there were many satellite events including skill-building workshops, receptions and meetings. The official languages of the conference were English and French.