“A lot of the advocacy of family planning has been built around establishing a long list of the many ways in which family planning can be relevant” to other development goals, says Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue of Cornell University in our latest Friday Podcast. While comprehensive accounts of the ways family planning access benefits communities, these “laundry lists” are not “clear, synthetic, or integrative,” he says.
Instead, Eloundou-Enyegue proposes that development planners focus instead on four “bottom lines” to more clearly communicate the importance of family planning across all sectors.
The first bottom line is financial: “Take people through the savings that they are going to achieve with each dollar that is invested in family planning,” said Eloundou-Enyegue.
The second bottom line is equity, which appeals to stakeholders who seek to promote justice in communities. Inequalities in fertility, income, and family structure “translate into very large inequality among children that will lead to even wider, larger inequality in the next generation,” Eloundou-Enyegue says. “Family planning can play an important role in breaking this intergenerational cycle.”
The third bottom line Eloundou-Enyegue proposes is durability, which appeals to visionary leaders through the dividends that family planning offers over multiple generations. In addition to the immediate benefits, there is a second dividend, when the current working age population reaches retirement with greater savings, and then a third dividend comes from greater investment in the early childhood development of the next generation.
The final bottom line is demand, particularly from youth: “There is actually a very large demand for family planning among youth if we return to the full meaning of ‘family planning,’” says Eloundou-Enyegue, focusing not just on births but on the course of one’s entire life. “Planning families for youth, and African youth, today, who are very concerned about their futures, is to think about how to plan their transition into work,” including developing skills and leadership.
“There is room there to incorporate family planning in a large vision which is concerned about planning futures, planning families, naturally, and planning lives,” says Eloundou-Enyegue.