The power of family planning
Family planning has the power to save lives.
Yet today, more than 200 million women in the developing world don't want to be pregnant but aren't using modern contraception. If we could meet their needs, we could dramatically improve the health and well-being of women, families, and communities.
When women have access to family planning, everyone benefits:
- Women and children are healthier
- Families and communities can invest more in education and health care
- Poverty is reduced
For 60 years, the Population Council has been changing the way the world thinks about family planning. Thanks to the efforts of organizations like ours, donors and country governments are beginning to take a renewed interest in the issue.
The Population Council:
- Has played a pivotal role in defining the powerful impact of voluntary family planning programs on individual lives and societies as a whole
- Works with Ministries of Health and community partners to increase access to family planning and improve reproductive health
- Changes the way the world thinks about contraception
Click on the "Evidence" and "News & commentary" tabs to learn more about the power of family planning.
A recent book from the Population Council makes the case for increased funding and support for family planning and provides a roadmap to policymakers and donors interested in implementing high-quality programs. (read more)
About the Population Council
The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.
Family planning improves lives
Pakistan: The Population Council completed the highly successful Family Advancement for Life and Health (FALAH) project in 2011. This family planning initiative increased contraceptive use—by an average of nine percentage points, with the highest increases among poor, rural, and younger couples—in less than four years in conservative areas of Pakistan. The project promoted the idea of healthy "birth spacing" to protect women and infants, and engaged the support of religious leaders who hold strong influence over family planning decisions. Government health ministers are committed to expanding the FALAH approach nationwide with support from development partners.
- FALAH project (more)
The importance of renewed investment in family planning: Research by Population Council Distinguished Scholar John Bongaarts focuses on the powerful poverty-reduction effects of voluntary family planning programs, in addition to their health and human rights benefits. Increased funding to strengthen family planning efforts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, is a critical component of global economic and human development.
Bangladesh: In a landmark study in the 1970s, the Population Council found that increasing access to family planning had a significant effect, not only on reproductive health, but also on other important development indicators in the Matlab district of Bangladesh. In addition to reducing fertility, the ICDDR,B's Matlab program improved women's health, household earnings, and use of preventive health care. In addition, children of women who received family planning outreach were more likely to live to age 5, and to attend school. The program was such a success that it was rolled out across the country.
- Selected resources about the Matlab program (more)
News & commentary
India vs. China vs. Egypt: "The one that will thrive the most in the 21st century will be the one that is most successful at converting its youth bulge into a 'demographic dividend.'" Read an op-ed by Thomas Friedman The New York Times.
"Giving birth without skilled help was universal 2,000-plus years ago. It remains surprisingly common today." Read Council president Peter J. Donaldson's commentary on Huffington Post.
“I want to help put women at the center of global health and development work, and better contraceptives are one of their priorities.” Read an article in Foreign Policy by Melinda Gates on why family planning is still a big idea.
A Huffington Post calls for increasing R&D on new contraceptive methods and improving the accessibility and affordability of current methods so that all women can plan their families and their futures.
A fact sheet on long-acting reversible contraception explains how the Population Council is working to expand contraceptive options worldwide, with a focus on LARCs.
A six-page special report from the Financial Times published on the eve of the July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning contains articles on topics ranging from contraceptive supply chain considerations and declining maternal mortality to integrated family planning and HIV prevention and treatment services.
The Population Council, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) released Bellagio Consensus: Recommendations for Action to Increase Access to Highly Effective, Long-Acting, Reversible Contraception—a statement from international experts outlining the steps needed to increase access to LARCs.
A recent book from the Population Council makes the case for increased funding and support for family planning and provides a roadmap to policymakers and donors interested in implementing high-quality programs.
"After attending a sensitization session on the importance of birth spacing, things became much more clear," said Ranjeet Kumar, who attended a FALAH-sponsored information session with his wife, Heemi Bai. "So we jointly decided to delay our first pregnancy until Heemi turns 18." Read this and other success stories from FALAH in an article from USAID's FrontLines.
Population Council Vice President and Distinguished Scholar John Bongaarts discusses the powerful role of voluntary family planning programs in changing population trends, and how family planning programs and policies can reduce poverty and inequality, and save lives.
Council Distinguished Scholars describe family planning research and its policy effects:
At TEDxChange in Berlin in 2012, Melinda Gates launched a major initiative to promote family planning in developing countries. Gates emphasized the role family planning plays in advancing women's and children’s health and enabling increased investments in education and economic development.
In her speech, she discussed landmark Population Council research in Bangladesh that demonstrated the significant benefit of voluntary family planning programs on reproductive health and other important development indicators. Watch the video:
Contacts and Resources
The Population Council welcomes Landis MacKellar as co-editor of Population and Development Review.