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Malawi’s family planning budget more than doubles in response to women’s demands for contraception

85,000 Malawian women told us clearly that “improved reproductive health services and supplies” was one of their top health demands. In Malawi, contraception remains out of reach for many with unmet need, especially adolescents and unmarried young women.

For years, the Government of Malawi has threatened budget cuts to family planning. In 2020, advocates and the Ministry of Health requested a modest increase for family planning, which was then upended and rejected by the Ministry of Finance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been longstanding challenges in Malawi and when the What Women Want campaign results were presented in black and white to the stakeholders… it came in like a big bang to say that now women are talking and action needed to be taken.

Dr. Fannie Kachale,
Ministry of Health Malawi 

But advocates were unwilling to concede. Armed with evidence and women’s demands from the campaign, they made a powerful case to Parliamentarians and the Ministry of Finance. Finance decision makers were finally persuaded to increase the 2020 family planning budget by six percent, to 200 million Malawi Kwacha (approximately US $241,906). Funding levels stayed flat the following year, given the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

By 2022, it was clear that family planning remained at the top of women’s list of concerns through the pandemic. Building on that momentum, advocates kept pressure on, and the government took unprecedented action to increase the national FP budget to 475 million Malawi Kwacha (approximately US $588,964). 

This increase…is a landmark and has never happened before. This is because of the voice of women—we listened to them. It made it very easy for our Ministry even to talk to Treasury and convince them that we need to have an increase in our budget.

Honorable Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, MP
Malawi Minister of Health

[My top request is] an environment where quality contraceptives are easily accessible to give women the liberty to limit, delay, and space childbirths.

26-year-old Woman
Malawi

We have given the [What Women Want] report to all these key government officers and the policymakers. What we have seen is that their reaction was yes, we need to respond to the needs of women.

Hester Nyasulu, Executive Director
White Ribbon Alliance Malawi 

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