Why I’m running for reproductive rights

June 23, 2016


PSN’s project and communications manager, Kathryn Lloyd, is taking part in the Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon, for the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population and Sustainability Network. Here she tells us why reproductive rights are so important to her and why she’s decided to run a half marathon to prove it.


Kat Passport3 250

This September I’ll be joining over 57,000 runners for the 13.1 mile journey from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields to take part in the world’s largest half marathon , the Great North Run. I’m not a natural runner, actually, to be frank, I find the whole thing really challenging but this year, I decided to move out of my comfort zone for a good cause.

I’m running for the Margaret Pyke Trust, with the Population and Sustainability Network, a sexual and reproductive health charity that works in the UK and internationally, providing training to doctors, nurses and community health workers in contraception and reproductive health, and providing education materials for communities and young people in Africa and Asia. In particular, we work for all the women and girls around the world who do not have unrestricted access to sexual and reproductive health services including voluntary family planning.

Why I’m running for reproductive rights

Living in the UK, I’m so lucky to be able to access free and quality healthcare, whenever I want. I have the choice to decide if and when to have children, and if and when I do become pregnant, I won’t live in fear of not being able to access skilled healthcare professionals at any point throughout my pregnancy.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case for many women around the world. There are an estimated 225 million women in developing countries who have an unmet need for modern contraception. These are women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern form of contraception (such as condoms, coils or the contraceptive pill). Reasons for this include a lack of access, a lack of training of healthcare professionals, contraceptive fears and myths and lack of knowledge.

Not being able to access contraception and trained healthcare professionals has a direct impact on the lives of women and girls. Reproductive rights are human rights. All women should be free to choose what happens to their bodies and their health, and no woman should ever live in fear of pregnancy.

If you, like me, love reproductive rights and would like to sponsor me on my journey, please visit my sponsorship page.

John Guillebaud calls for action to tackle the effect of a growing world population on greenhouse gas production

June 17, 2016


Our Trustee, John Guillebaud, calls for action to tackle the effect of a growing world population on greenhouse gas production in his new article in the BMJ.

PSN speaks at Doha conference on impact of global population growth on public policy

June 9, 2016


Last week, our chairman, Sir Richard Ottaway, spoke at the 11th Annual Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference in Doha, at a session which brought together a number of PSN Network members to discuss the impact of global population growth on public policy.


Richard and Bill 250

Population: the ‘elephant in the room’

The event, ‘Impact of global population growth on public policy’, presented detailed statistics on global population growth, with a special focus on the Arab world as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Sir Richard was joined by Mr. Lucien Kouakou of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Dr. Rachel Snow of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Mr. Bill Ryerson of the Population Media Center.

Sir Richard opened the event, providing an overview of past and future world population by region. He noted that Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see the majority of the world’s future population growth, which is of concern as it is “an area which is already vulnerable to drought, flooding and conflict”. Sir Richard continued to explain that there are already water shortages in the Nile basin, affecting 11 countries, and the population of the Nile region is likely to double, before concluding his opening remarks by stating how “the world’s growing population needs access to healthcare, water, housing and other resources”, but that “population is the ‘elephant in the room’ in all development studies”.

The Arab states: demographic data

Dr. Snow presented UNFPA data on select age groups in Arab states highlighting that the ‘education age’ population (ages 5-23) in the region is declining but the working age population and older populations are growing. Dr. Snow also noted that data suggests that over the next 15 years there will be over 150 million births in the region, which will lead to a rise in school aged children. This remarkable increase in the youth population will put the most stress on the education and health systems.

“The number of people 65 years and older in the region will double, generally increasing by 15 million, which presents its own challenges in the health sector and employment sector”, explained Dr. Snow.

Harnessing the demographic dividend

Mr. Kouakou of IPPF focused on the demographic dividend globally, which he defined as “a period, of usually 20 to 30 years, when fertility rates fall due to significant reductions in child and infant mortality rates”. The demographic dividend, Mr. Kouakou explained, is an economic phenomenon, which is only realised when countries “invest in health, act on the population age structure, invest in education, ensure the implementation of economic policies that create jobs and ensure implementation of good leadership”.

Mr. Kouakou urged world leaders to not forget about family planning as a key driver influencing population age structures which contributes to harnessing the demographic dividend.

Using entertainment to improve lives: Results from Sierra Leone

Mr. Ryerson of the Population Media Center (PMC) presented on the environmental impact of population growth, noting that “environmental degradation is accelerated by human population growth, especially in the Middle East where water scarcity is a huge issue”. Mr. Ryerson explained that making a major effort towards small families could yield great gains in staving off environmental degradation. He highlighted a study which shows that a family having one fewer child has a much greater contribution to reducing carbon footprints than all other technological approaches.

Finally, Mr. Ryerson presented results from PMC’s “soap operas for social good”, which use behaviour change communication to educate and entertain populations in numerous countries across the globe. Mr. Ryerson focussed on one notable PMC programme which was broadcast in Sierra Leone, which saw 208 episodes broadcast over two years. “During this broadcast period, 50 percent of visitors to family planning clinics gave the series as a reason for their visit to the clinic”, he explained.

Sir Richard concluded the event, stating that “family planning is a very effective form of international development, which goes a long way to limiting poverty and declining resources”.

PSN at Women Deliver 2016

May 23, 2016


Last week, PSN attended the Women Deliver conference, the world's largest global conference on the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women. We joined several of our Network members for a side-event focussing on the importance of the integration of gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights and climate change issues.


CH and Bill WD 250

Carina Hirsch, PSN Policy and Advocacy Manager, travelled to Copenhagen to attend the Women Deliver 2016 conference to join Population & Sustainability Network members to speak at a side event entitled, ‘Bringing the Sectors Together: How Gender, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Climate Change are integrated issues’.

The event was co-hosted by the Population and Sustainable Development Alliance (PSDA), of which PSN is the secretariat, and the Danish 92 group. The Danish 92 group is a network of Danish climate change and environmental NGOs which began advocating together on conservation and climate change issues at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development that took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The event featured speakers from the Danish Family Planning Association, as well as other PSDA members, and the newest member of the Population & Sustainability Network, Population Media Center.

Alison Marshall of the International Planned Parenthood Federation opened the event, emphasising the importance of environmental organisations joining forces with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRH) organisations, for the well-being of women, girls and their surrounding communities, especially in the face of climate change.

Bill Ryerson from the Population Media Center presented a global picture of reproductive health and its intersection with the environment. He shared important evidence demonstrating the relevance of responding to SRH needs, particularly as meeting the unmet need for family planning will slow global climate change, by providing 16-29% of the needed emissions reductions, he said, “it isn’t everything but it isn’t nothing!”.

Carina Hirsch spoke about a soon to be launched PSN project that has been developed jointly with its member organisation in South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), which will integrate SRH and environmental interventions in a climate change hotspot. The project is entitled “Let’s do it ourselves!”, which is the name the community has chosen for a project whereby they will take control of the environmental, financial, and health challenges they are currently facing. PSN will work with the EWT to improve communities’ awareness of their reproductive health options and knowledge of sustainable livelihoods in a climate change hotspot by an integrated approach with SRH and environment education materials.

Dr Joan Castro, PATH Foundation Philippines Inc, showcased a video of integrated population, health and environment approaches in action, in rural areas of the Philippines, responding to SRH and habitat conservation needs in areas already experiencing frequent climate-related natural disasters.

Negash Teklu, PHE Ethiopia Consortium, discussed the environmental challenges Ethiopia is facing, especially drought and deforestation, coupled with high fertility and the importance of integrated approaches to respond to these complex challenges.

The event was a valuable opportunity to engage conservation and climate change organisations in sexual and reproductive health and population issues.

Welcome to Population Media Center - our latest member!

May 16, 2016


We are delighted to welcome the Population Media Center (PMC) into our Network. PMC specialises in large-scale communications-for-development projects and is an expert in ‘entertainment-education’. PMC’s work is geared to improve the quality of life in developing and developed countries and help attain global sustainability.


PMC produces highly entertaining fictional dramas for radio, TV, and internet, which are informed and guided by a rigorous, theory-driven behaviour-change communications methodology.

PMC’s long-running dramas engage audiences with entertainment, weaving good storytelling with diverse human-health, human-rights, economic equality, and environmental conservation issues. The dramas role model different behaviours in a variety of characters, ultimately empowering the audience to make beneficial life changes. 

Characters and plots are scripted to reveal the importance of the status of women, promote gender equity, educate people about the benefits of small families, encourage the use of effective family planning methods, and help people and communities to live in harmony with their environment. In turn, the outcomes of these human rights-enhancing interventions help to positively alter local, national, and global demographic trajectories by slowing down population growth and fostering a sustainable environment.

PMC’s results speak to both the popularity of their dramas, the entertainment value, and the attitudinal and behavioural changes common among audience members. For example, PMC’s 2007-2009 Nigerian programme, Ruwan Dare (“Midnight Rain”) reached more than 12 million people. Listeners were nearly twice as likely as non-listeners to say they “discussed the practice of family planning with family, friends, or neighbours” in the past three months. In a clinic survey to determine motivating factors for new clients, 67% of all visitors cited the show as the reason they had come to the clinic seeking reproductive health and family planning services. PMC will soon start its fifth radio drama in Nigeria, and has produced similar results in dozens of other countries around the world.

PMC’s work is in-line with section 11.12 of the Programme of Action of the ICPD, which noted that “Effective information, education and communication are prerequisites for sustainable human development and pave the way for attitudinal and behavioural change.” Additionally, section 11.23 of the Programme of Action notes “Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector should make greater and more effective use of the entertainment media, including radio and television soap operas and drama, folk theatre and other traditional media to encourage public discussion of important but sometimes sensitive topics…”.

Since 1998, PMC has collaborated with scores of implementing partners, from local, mission-driven NGOs to major philanthropies to UN agencies. In addition to entertainment-education programmes, PMC also offers training and advisory services in the Sabido methodology of behaviour change communications. PMC also advocates on population and related issues, while drawing attention to the effectiveness social change communication strategies and the value of expanding these strategies in international development initiatives. For PSN members sending representatives to the U.S. from time to time, PMC also runs an editorial and news leadership programme, and may be able to help generate publicity for development initiatives.

We’re looking forward to working closely with PMC and hope that our Network members will consider partnership opportunities too.

Abortion rates in developing countries remain unchanged since 1990, new Lancet report shows

May 13, 2016

Source: Guttmacher Institute

Abortion rates have declined significantly across most developed regions between 1990 and 2014 but they remained largely unchanged in developing regions, highlighting the continued effort needed to improve women’s access to unrestricted sexual and reproductive health rights, services and information.


6309959664_404b3a7bfe_b 250

A new study, “Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends,” by Gilda Sedgh et al., published in the Lancet shows that, despite considerable global efforts to increase universal access to sexual and reproductive health, services, rights and information, women in developing countries are still unable to prevent unplanned pregnancies and healthily space and time their pregnancies.

The study found that between 1990 and 2014, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44 years old) in developed countries dropped from 46 to 27, while in developing countries, it changed little, from 39 to 37, a nonsignificant difference.

Researchers also found that although the global abortion rate declined slightly during the 25 year period studied, the absolute number of abortions per year increased as a result of population growth. It is estimated that in 2010-2014, a quarter of all pregnancies worldwide ended in abortion.

Although the global abortion rate declined slightly…the absolute number of abortions per year increased as a result of population growth.

“These trends suggest that women and couples in the developed world have become more successful at avoiding unintended pregnancies—the cause of most abortions—over the last two decades,” says Dr. Sedgh, lead author of the study and a principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute. “High abortion rates are directly correlated to high levels of unmet contraceptive need. Our findings indicate that in many developing regions, women lack the contraceptive services they need and are unable to prevent pregnancies they do not want to have.”

The evidence also shows that even if all women and couples who wish to avoid pregnancy had universal access to contraception, unintended pregnancies and abortions would still occur. Women may become pregnant as a result of sexual violence, contraceptive methods may fail, and women who initially wish to have a child may experience a change of circumstances after they become pregnant. Therefore, access to safe abortion is essential so that women who need abortion care don’t have to resort to unsafe procedures.

PSN speaks at London International Development Centre

May 3, 2016

Source: PSN

PSN spoke at a conference, “The Global Goals: Take Action” aimed at delegates from Birkbeck University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, The School of Oriental & African Studies, University College London and the Royal Veterinary College, looking to the future of the Global Goals and the skills needed to begin a career in the 2030 Agenda world.


Karen conf April 16 250

The event was jointly organised by the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the UCL Centre for Global Prosperity. The conference was moderated by Professor Jeff Waage, Director of the LIDC, and the panel was comprised of Karen Newman, PSN’s Policy and Advocacy advisor, Professor Sir Andy Haines (the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Professor of Public Health and Primary Care) and Professor Sarah Bell, UCL Civil, Environmental and Geometric Engineering Senior Lecturer.

Panellists focused on the integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. Professor Waage noted that the SDGs are “global, comprehensive and designed to leave no one behind; an agenda for collective global action rather than just a development agenda”. Dr Bell shared her work on looking at how the goals interact, warning of the positive and negative interactions with consequences on the well-being of people, infrastructure and the natural environment.

Professor Haines highlighted the opportunity that an integrated agenda provides for policies that improve health and well-being while also driving sustainable development and encouraged students to advocate with their governments for their implementation. He cited the importance of social and environmental determinants of health, and in particular, climate change.

Karen Newman stressed the importance of population dynamics: growth, migration, and urbanisation, as a common denominator for all the SDGs and an integrated approach to achieving them. PSN, in fact, promotes the development and implementation of integrated development approaches, including interventions to further gender, health, climate, and environmental outcomes, contributing to the achievement of multiple SDGs and sustaining the global partnership for the goals (SDG 17). Karen urged the millennial generation to harness the skills to think laterally, across policies in order to leverage multi-sectoral knowledge and implement integrated, global solutions to development challenges.

CSW 60 on women’s empowerment and sustainable development concludes

April 6, 2016


The sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016. This year’s theme was women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.


16078667658_4dd92ef8ae_k 250

The sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and NGOs from all regions of the world attended the session. This year’s theme was women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development, highlighting the important role played by women in ensuring the future of our planet, something PSN also strongly advocates for.

The outcome of the Commission’s consideration of the priority theme takes the form of agreed conclusions, negotiated by all States. The conclusions included a section on sexual and reproductive health and rights:

"Ensure the promotion and protection of the human rights of all women and their sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences, including through the development and enforcement of policies and legal frameworks and the strengthening of health systems that make universally accessible and available quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care services, commodities, information and education, including, inter alia, safe and effective methods of modern contraception, emergency contraception, prevention programmes for adolescent pregnancy, maternal health care such as skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care which will reduce obstetric fistula and other complications of pregnancy and delivery, safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law, and prevention and treatment of reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and reproductive cancers, recognizing that human rights include the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, in accordance with national laws and context, including sexual and reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination and violence".

New sexual and reproductive health essentials course for practice nurses launched

March 31, 2016

SOURCE: Margaret Pyke Trust

This month, the Margaret Pyke Trust held the first Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Essentials course for practice nurses, developed by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, in London.


MPT logo square

It is widely recognised that practice nurses are the first point of call for many patients with sexual and reproductive health needs.

The new Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Essentials course is aimed at supporting this pivotal role by providing key information, the tools to think clearly and know what to do when seeing patients who need contraception services, STI testing and emergency contraception.

The Margaret Pyke Trust was delighted to be asked to run the London one-day pilot course for practice nurses. Developed by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, it was designed to fill gaps in SRH knowledge and enhance skills.

The pilot took place on 21st March and was acclaimed by those who attended. It is hoped that following evaluation by the Faculty, the course can be rolled out to benefit the high number of nurses for whom it applies.

See Margaret Pyke Trust's website for more information about contraceptive update training for qualified medical practitioners.

PSN at the International Conference on Family Planning

February 4, 2016


Over 3000 international experts, including PSN’s Karen Newman, reaffirmed the importance of family planning to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, after travelling from 70 countries to attend the biannual ICFP conference last week.


KN ICFP Conference Poster 250

The Fourth International Conference on Family Planning brought together activists, service providers, donors and other sexual and reproductive health professionals for four days of intensive learning, networking, lobbying and strategizing. Karen had been invited to the conference by PSN Network member, IPPF.

Karen featured the work of the Population and Sustainable Development Alliance, of which PSN is the secretariat, in a panel discussion titled “Towards New Horizons: Building a sustainable global financing architecture for family planning”. The IPPF European Network also convened an informal event titled “Connecting the dots: gathering the Family Planning/Reproductive Health accountability community”, which included the participation of PSDA member, Jackson Chekweku from Reproductive Health Uganda and Karen also facilitated an informal event on accountability in family planning.

Karen was invited by USAID’s Sandra Jordan to participate in a “What came first? Contraceptives or Rights” panel discussion. Her presentation focused on the importance of contraceptive method mix, and ensuring access to methods that are short-acting, long-acting, reversible and permanent. PSN Network member DFID’s Beth Scott was also involved in the discussion and another PSN Network member, the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health was represented by its Chair, Baroness Jenny Tonge. All in all, PSN Network members were out in force!

Finally, the conference was an opportunity to connect with a number of other PSN Network members, including the Population Foundation of India and the Population Media Centre, with which PSN is currently actively developing programmes. We’ll be reporting on them shortly.

We’d like to thank IPPF for financing Karen’s costs of attending.