Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

4 Questions for the Gates Foundation's Family Planning Director

November 11, 2013
It’s been almost five months since Elizabeth Lule joined the foundation to lead our Family Planning work. This week, she’s in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). She shares why this is an historic event and why women and girls in the developing world should continue to have hope for the future.
What has impressed you most since you joined the foundation as Director of Family Planning?
I can’t say enough about the wonderful team and the amazing partners with whom I’m fortunate to work. I am excited to continue collaborating to help women plan their families. I am also very impressed with our ability to help convene stakeholders from around the world at events like the International Conference on Family Planning because these are critical opportunities to showcase the progress we’re making and highlight all that still needs to be done.

What’s so significant about this year’s International Conference on Family Planning?

With more than 3,000 attendees, this year’s event will be one of the largest family planning conferences ever. The location – Ethiopia – is also historic. It was chosen as the host country because of its strong commitment to family planning, success in expanding contraceptive access, and model Health Extension Workers program. Ethiopia also just achieved MDG4, successfully reducing child mortality by two-thirds.

What’s top of mind as you head to the International Conference on Family Planning?

We will showcase progress since last year’s London Summit on Family Planning, examine challenges that remain, and renew political and financial commitments from governments and donors. We’ll also take the opportunity to consult with our grantees and partners on our emerging strategy.

What gives you hope about the global community’s ability to expand women’s access to information, contraceptives, and family planning services?

The unprecedented commitments made at last year’s London Summit and the resulting momentum across the family planning community continue to inspire me. It’s encouraging to see so many African leaders taking on this issue and working together with civil society, the private sector, and development partners to accelerate family planning information and contraceptive access for women and girls. And, Melinda’s leadership and passion to keep women and girls at the center of the development agenda continues to breathe new life into the family planning movement.

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