The fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) took place in Kigali, Rwanda, from November 12 to 15, 2018. It was co-hosted by the Gates Institute and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Rwanda. The 2018 ICFP was held at the state-of-the-art Kigali Convention Centre, which in the past hosted the 27th African Union Summit and other high-level meetings.
The theme of the 2018 ICFP was “Investing for a Lifetime of Returns.” This theme title spoke to the various returns on investment family planning provides, from education and empowerment to economic growth and environmental health. Underlying many of the conference sessions was a focus on the ways in which countries can harness the benefits of the demographic dividend to reap these returns on the macro and micro levels, and the demographic dividend was a highlighted track.
More than 4,000 people from 119 countries attended the 2018 ICFP, a conference record. This ICFP was the largest and most impressive yet, in a number of other ways:
- Highest number of youth at the Youth Pre-conference – more than 600
- Highest number of submissions to the Youth Leader video contest, which provided conference scholarships to outstanding youth on the basis of video submissions – 550
- Highest number of abstract submissions – 2,759 individual abstracts, 225 preformed panel abstracts, representing a 40% increase in abstract submissions over the 2016 ICFP
- Highest engagement on social media — On Twitter, the hashtags #ICFP2018 and #ICFPYouth earned 46.2 million and 10 million impressions respectively; the top tweet using #ICFP2018 was from @MelindaGates, earning 4.4 million impressions. More than 120,000 people were reached through Facebook.
- Highest engagement on digital media — e.g., between October 23 and November 20, original conference video content received 28,165 video views, representing an increase of 5,300% over ICFP 2016.
- Highest engagement on the ICFP Hub, where all the content (daily recaps, livestreamed sessions, guest columns from partner organizations, videos and social media coverage) for the virtual ICFP is stored. The 2018 Hub saw 16,396 total pageviews (number of times a page is viewed), an increase of 11,781 over 2016.
In addition to the robust scientific program, featuring more than 1,600 oral and poster presentations under 16 tracks, highlights of the conference included:
- Formal opening ceremonies, featuring remarks from the Right Honorable Édouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of Rwanda; Dr. Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health of Rwanda; Dr. Ellen J. MacKenzie, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund; Dr. Christopher Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development of Canada; Jose “Oying” Rimon, Director of the Gates Instittue and Chair of the ICFP International Steering Committee, and Sadia Rahman, ICFP youth leader from Bangladesh.
- There were also video messages from Melinda and Bill Gates, Co-chairs and Trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization; and Jane Goodall, noted anthropologist.
- At the opening ceremony, the Global Humanitarian Award for Women’s and Children’s Health was presented by Prime Minister Ngirente to Susan Packard Orr, founder and CEO of Telosa Software and member of the Board of Directors of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The award recognizes individuals for their contributions and commitment to advancing maternal and child health and wellbeing, especially family planning, in communities around the world.
- Daily plenaries brought the conference attendees together to focus on key issues:
- The Return on Investment (November 13): Family planning yields wide-ranging dividends both locally and globally. This plenary featured expert roundtable discussions on the demographic dividend and family planning’s health, financial, environmental and security benefits.
- Youth & Diversity in Family Planning (November 14): Young people face unique challenges in family planning. Through monologues and artistic storytelling, this youth-led plenary showcased experiences of youth from all over the world as well as family planning programs that ensure the inclusion of diverse voices.
- FP2020 Progress (November 15): The FP2020 partnership is driving momentum towards family planning commitments and country-specific FP2020 goals. This plenary spotlighted successful national, rights-based family planning programs and their personal impact on women and girls, and looked ahead to where the sector will go in the future.
- Red Carpet Evening Among the Stars, in which attendees were invited to walk the red carpet and join the ICFP and PSI to raise a glass to international family planning advocates, leaders and celebrity supporters who have helped pave the way toward worldwide access to family planning. Special celebrity guests joined the conference delegates.
- Yvonne Chaka Chaka hosted the evening as special celebrity guests joined the conference delegates, including Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan; H.E. Toyin Ojora Saraki of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa; and musical artists Naveeni, Avril, William Otuck and Trevor Arnett.
- The inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards in Family Planning and Reproductive Health were bestowed upon Bill Gates Sr., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Chief Dr. Grace Ebun Delano, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Nigeria; Prof. Oladapo A. Ladipo, Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Nigeria; and Klaus Brill, Former VP of Healthcare Programs at Bayer.
- PSI gave The Future is Female Award to Jess Jacobs, a young philanthropist and filmmaker who has worked to revolutionize access to reproductive healthcare.
- Women of Impact: Global Leaders Creating Positive Change, a panel discussion featuring four high-profile female leaders from around the world who have impacted the family planning, economic empowerment and social justice fields in extraordinary ways: H.E. Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Martine Moise, First Lady of Haiti; Her Royal Highness Sarah Zeid, Princess of Jordan; and H.E. Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation.
- Doing it Differently: Young Leaders Shaping the Future of Reproductive Health, a lunch symposium hosted by 120 Under 40 and Bayer focusing on the fresh ideas and approaches of the new generation of young leaders is bringing to family planning.
- The inaugural FPitchfest featured ten CEOs in family planning and reproductive health, onstage to pitch ideas to the audience that they believed would be transformative for the community. The audience voted in real time, and the winner was Julia Bunting, president of Population Council, for her pitch about Population Council’s work on a male contraceptive gel. A second contest featured the top two AmplifyChange @ ICFP youth grantees, who competed for additional grant funding for their projects. The nail-biting live voting ended in a tie, with both Francophone youth winners given an additional 10,000 Euros for a total of 30,000 Euros each.
- Official closing ceremonies included:
- The bestowing of the Excellence in Leadership in Family Planning (EXCELL) Awards to Uganda and Burkina Faso (country category), Profamilia Colombia (organization category), Save the Children Yemen (team category) and Dr. Nicolas Meda, Minister of Health of Burkina Faso (individual category).
- The winners of the 2018 Packard Quality Innovation Challenge were announced.
- Youth dancers and special celebrity guests Naveeni (Sri Lanka), Avril (Kenya), Knowless (Rwanda), Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South Africa), Trevor Arnett (United States) and William Otuck (Tanzania) gave a special performance of Otuck’s new original song, “We are Family,” commissioned by Gates Institute for the ICFP. The song’s proceeds will go to IYAFP for their family planning work.
The conference also included more than 80 onsite and offsite side events and pre-conferences. Eighty-five organizations participated as exhibitors, compared to 58 at the 2016 ICFP. Delegates were also able to go on site visits to clinics, youth centers and other locations of interest in and around Kigali.
Major funding announcements included:
- The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development announced UK aid is investing over £200 million (approximately $260M USD) in a new flagship program Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH), which will ensure six million couples can reliably gain access to life-saving voluntary contraception in some of the world’s poorest countries every year of the program.
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development of Canada, announced up to Can$104.4 million ($78.8M USD) in funding for projects that take a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including universal access to family planning and access to safe and legal abortion. This investment is part of Canada’s $650 million commitment to address gaps in funding for SRHR, announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March 2017.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched an $18 million USD family planning fund, managed by UNFPA Supplies, for the Ouagadougou Partnership countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Togo): $15 million for a commodity matching fund and $3 million USD for accompanying technical assistance. The commodity matching fund will allocate two dollars for every additional dollar that these countries invest into family planning from domestic resources, based on the previous year’s allocation. This funding follows an announcement from Melinda Gates in Burkina Faso earlier in 2018.
The 2018 ICFP also saw the debut of a virtual conference, designed to enable engagement with people around the world who could not travel to Kigali. The ICFP Hub featured everything needed to interact virtually with the ICFP, including livestreamed sessions, daily recaps, social media coverage, partner content and videos from the conference. Now that the conference is over, it will serve as an archive of key highlights and news and daily recaps, as well as a convening point for conversations and online events designed to keep the conversations going between the 2018 ICFP and the next conference. Other social and digital media content, new for this year, including the ICFP Daily Minute recaps, partner-produced content in the Facebook Live studio. Facebook, Twitter and the newly launched ICFP Instagram account saw record-breaking engagement.
Media engagement was impressive, with 261 original media hits and 131 reposts mentioning ICFP, published in more than 20 countries across the globe. More than 40 international reporters from 15 countries attended the conference (a strong scholarship journalist program generated over 30 high-quality, nuanced articles covering a range of key family planning topics), and more than 180 reporters in over 40 countries followed the conference virtually. Media coverage prominently featured Global South voices, including youth and local leaders and advocates. Additionally, 18 satellite and partner events in 15 countries were attended by over 1,750 people and generated close to 30 media hits. More than 100 partner organizations were highly engaged in communications around the ICFP, publishing 35 blog posts and press releases throughout the conference, and submitting over a hundred family planning stories and spokespeople to support media engagement before and during ICFP.
About the ICFP
Great progress has been made since the inaugural ICFP in Kampala, Uganda, in 2009, which urged the family planning community to scale up best practices with effective programs and policy changes. Two years later, the 2011 ICFP convened the family planning field in Dakar, Senegal, to focus on improving family planning services in Francophone Africa. Following the successful launch of Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) during the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, the 2013 ICFP brought together more than 3,400 people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to celebrate progress made toward achieving “Full Access, Full Choice.” The 2016 ICFP was held in Indonesia, a leader in innovative family planning programming, and attracted more than 3,500 delegates and participants from about 100 countries. The 2018 ICFP returned to Africa, hosting more than 4,000 people in Kigali, Rwanda, to focus on family planning’s returns on investment.
The ICFP serves as a strategic inflection point for the family planning and reproductive health community worldwide. It provides an opportunity for political leaders, scientists, researchers, policymakers, advocates, and youth to disseminate knowledge, celebrate successes, and identify next steps toward reaching the goal of enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary, quality contraception by 2020.
The ICFP also serves as an international platform from which countries, organizations and individuals can make public commitments to family planning, and can be recognized for their achievements. Dozens of side events are organized around the conference by many institutions and groups from around the world. For more information, visit www.fpconference.org.