As policymakers, donors and advocates from across the world gather in London on World Population Day to reaffirm their commitment to empowering young women and girls through voluntary family planning, The Challenge Initiative is honored to announce a new grant agreement from Comic Relief worth up to $6 million.

Comic Relief is the U.K-based international charity behind the Red Nose Campaign and Sports Relief. It is supporting the Family Planning Summit and its partners in their commitment to work together to fight the challenges faced by women and girls when accessing contraception. Voluntary family planning saves lives, empowers women to take charge of their bodies and plan their futures and is one of the most cost effective ways to break the cycle of poverty – for families, communities, and for entire nations.

The London Family Planning Summit, co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), highlighted the progress made since the 2012 Summit and profiled new pledges from countries confirming their commitment to universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

One of the new commitments to support the positive work already being carried out in sub-Saharan Africa was announced by Uganda to increase access to family planning. As part of its commitment, Comic Relief announced new matched funding with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Initiative. This new funding of up to $6 million will support the Initiative’s work in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are hugely passionate about empowering women and girls to achieve their full potential. There has been so much progress over the years, but we must continue to take action to build safer, healthier and stronger communities by ensuring that family planning is an option for every woman,” said Jennie Richmond, head of international grants at Comic Relief. “We’re really excited that countries, such as Uganda, have joined the cause by announcing a new commitment at today’s Summit. We’re also proud to make our first grant to The Challenge Initiative, supporting their innovative approach to ensure urban poor communities access essential family planning information and services.”

The Challenge Initiative is a global urban reproductive health program dedicated to improving access to modern contraception among the urban poor in the developing world – specifically East Africa, Francophone West Africa, Nigeria and India. The Initiative is led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“We are so thrilled that Comic Relief chose the Challenge Initiative to be the first recipient of its family planning grant-making,” said Jose “Oying” Rimon, director of both The Challenge Initiative and the Gates Institute. “We know that in addition to providing women and girls with a brighter future, family planning is one of the best investments out there to tackle a multitude of global challenges – everything from maternal and child deaths to global climate change.”

Visit for more information on the Summit and the vital work going on around the world to help women and girls achieve their full potential. #HerFuture