In this report, we share highlights on progress and the impact we are making toward our strategic plan’s four interconnected global goals.

1. Ensure sexual and reproductive health, rights, and choices 2. Empower adolescents and young people to reach their full potential 3. Achieve gender equality and equity 4. Pursue justice in the face of climate and environmental changes

The Population Council tackles intersecting inequalities that undermine rights and access to contraception, HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention, safe abortion, the prevention and treatment of infertility, and sexuality education, among other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs.

To increase access to contraception and HIV/STI prevention methods, the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research (CBR) signed a number of landmark agreements:

  • Partnering with Imres BV, we are supplying and distributing the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring to underserved countries for HIV prevention. The ring is the first long-acting technology approved for HIV prevention in women and the first product of its kind.
  • With Celanese Corporation, the Population Council will supply the VitalDose® Drug Delivery Platform for use in a new multipurpose prevention technology (MPT) intravaginal ring (IVR) to provide both contraception and protection against HIV. CBR continues to expand MPT development for protection against STIs and pregnancy with investment from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research through the KfW Development Bank.
  • Joining forces with SwiftPharma, we agreed to the plant-based manufacture of Griffithsin to further the development of a fast-dissolving vaginal insert for protection against HIV.

The Population Council is committed to supporting robust evidence that secures Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals for expanding SRH choice.

  • In 2000, the Population Council, in the face of virulent opposition, produced rigorous evidence and secured FDA approval for mifepristone, the abortion pill. We firmly believe in science-based policy and choices for all. In response to a Texas federal court’s decision on mifepristone in 2023, we reaffirmed that the FDA’s role in regulating US medications was and must continue to be grounded in scientific evidence of their safety and efficacy.
  • Our CBR medical director presented to the FDA Advisory Committee to support over the-counter access to the Opill, a progestin-only oral contraceptive.

The Population Council’s work spans across borders to advance a wide range of health indicators.

  • After six years of extensive research on social and behavior change (SBC) across 60 studies in 19 countries, the Population Council-led USAID global flagship Breakthrough RESEARCH project concluded with four legacy areas – provider behavior change, enabling environment, SBC measurements, and costing and cost-effectiveness – to guide global SBC programs, aiming to enhance a broad spectrum of health outcomes.
  • Drawing on experience in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the Population Council is broadening collaboration with US partners to reduce stigma and support mental health among Black sexual minority men and to pioneer a community-based and a pharmacy-based PrEP intervention aimed at boosting PrEP uptake among Black adults in Washington, DC.

The Population Council’s Girl Innovation, Research, and Learning (GIRL) Center serves as a global hub of data and evidence to drive investment for a gender-equitable world for the 1.8 billion adolescents and youth, where girls and boys make a healthy and safe transition into adulthood and reach their full potential.

The GIRL Center produces accessible and easy-to-grasp data and insights that bridge the gap between decision-makers and evidence to inform policies and programs. The Adolescent Atlas for Action (A3) captures the lives and needs of adolescents through multidimensional data analytics. A3 launched the Adolescent and Young People (AYP) Migration Dashboard, offering a comprehensive view of young migrants worldwide. This dashboard reveals the proportion of migrants by country, profiles their experiences, and delves into the myriad factors influencing migration patterns across 30 countries.

The Population Council is expanding opportunities for adolescent girls and young women in neglected regions. Through the SWEDD initiative (the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project), our researchers provide technical assistance for secondphase expansion of empowerment programming in nine countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. SWEDD’s mission is to improve life skills and SRH knowledge, keep girls in school, increase economic opportunities, and combat gender-based violence.

The Population Council is scaling up its multisectoral girls’ empowerment programs, which have shown significant reductions in early pregnancies and improvements in school enrollment. In partnership with Kenya’s Wajir County Government, we are customizing this effective approach for government implementation and have achieved impact thus far. Our aim is to extend this model throughout Kenya and other settings with high rates of early marriage and pregnancy, creating a broader impact. The AGI-K Report Documentary features voices from girl participants, program implementers, community leaders, and researchers about the program and its potential for scale.

The Population Council collaborates with locally-rooted organizations, feminists, communities, and governments to conduct research to advance gender equity by tackling social systems and policies that perpetuate gender discrimination, violence, and systemic neglect.

Education is essential for gender equality as it empowers individuals with knowledge, skills, and opportunities to change societal norms and disparities. The Population Council launched a new global innovation hub for research on education – the Gender, Education, Justice, and Equity Initiative (GEJE). GEJE tackles the global education crisis by generating data and insights on the ripple effects of education, unpacking how progress in education can translate into economic and social equity, and identifying programs that are working to eliminate inequity and injustice. In addition, the Evidence for Gender and Education Resource (EGER) released the Global Accountability Dashboard to monitor progress and highlight gaps for key indicators in gender transformative education to propel action.

Women’s groups play an important role in feminist movements to advance women’s economic participation, environmental activism, and reproductive rights. In India, the Population Council rigorously evaluated whether and how a broad range of interventions led by self-help groups can lead to positive behavior change and access to services in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health, and in nutrition. Drawing from global evidence on women’s groups, Population Council researchers produced tools to guide global investment in this model across settings.

The Population Council elevates data visibility of sexual and gender minority communities through community-based participatory research. The Our Health Matters study, led by a local Indian transmasculine steering committee, informs policy and program development for transmasculine health. Despite a growing focus on gender minority youth in LMICs, a global evidence review reveals a need for better data to meet their mental and physical health needs, especially in contexts criminalizing their gender expression. The Population Council discussed the severity of Uganda’s new anti-LGBTIA+ laws, which poses significant barriers to healthcare and research for LGBTIA+ people and hinders development of evidence-based, inclusive programs to meet their needs.

The Population Council’s Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC) initiative uses a climate justice lens to acknowledge that those who contribute the least to climate change are disproportionately harmed. The PERCC initiative addresses gaps in climate adaptation research, policy, and programming. It combines climate and social science to develop transdisciplinary solutions and power progress.

Ahead of New York City Climate Week and COP28, the Population Council announced the PERCC Initiative’s new strategic priorities for effective climate adaptation. Building on its successes, PERCC focuses on growing the evidence base and advancing solutions at the intersections of climate and 1) health, 2) adolescents and young people, and 3) urbanization. For example, extreme weather events associated with climate change pose a direct threat to the mental health and well-being of young people. The Population Council’s VoCes-19 survey reached 168,407 young people and found that exposure to any climate event, particularly heat waves, increased reported mental health disorders.

COP28 is hailed as the first “Health COP,” bringing attention to critical climate and health issues. At COP28, PERCC researchers and collaborators shared new findings on how climate change is affecting the education, livelihoods, and health of young people in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Nigeria. PERCC researchers and advocates also called for the prioritization of the intersections between sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), gender and young people, and the need to reflect these perspectives in national adaptation plans and nationally determined contributions.

In 2023, PERCC introduced the Innovative Models of People and Climate Across Time and Space (IMPACTS) project. IMPACTS creates precise demographic projections that can be integrated with climate and energy models to forecast the interplay between climate change and population dynamics. IMPACTS pinpoints regions where climate risks and vulnerable populations intersect, shaping climate adaptation strategies and policies. A notable example is PERCC’s collaboration with the City of New York Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency, focusing on predicting future flood and heat risks in the context of demographic shifts and vulnerable communities.

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