New Report on Global Family Planning Charts Increase in Voluntary Use of Contraceptives by Women and Girls in the World’s Poorest Countries

Family Planning 2020’s (FP2020) annual progress report, launched today, charts progress in 2017 towards enabling 120 million more women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use modern contraceptives by the year 2020. As of July 2017, more than 309 million women and girls in the 69 FP2020 focus countries are using a modern method of contraception. This is 38.8 million more than were using contraceptives in 2012 when FP2020 was launched. According to the new report, the use of modern contraception in FP2020 focus countries from July 2016–July 2017 prevented 84 million unintended pregnancies, 26 million unsafe abortions, and 125,000 maternal deaths.

FP2020: The Way Ahead reveals that Africa accounts for almost half of the additional users of contraception. As of July 2017, 16 million additional women and girls were using a modern method of contraception in the FP2020 countries in Africa as compared to 2012. In Eastern and Southern Africa, unmet need for modern methods has dropped by more than 3 percentage points since 2012 – by far the largest change of any FP2020 region.

More than half of the girls and women who are considered “additional users” are in Asia: 21.9 million. Asia includes four of the five most populous FP2020 countries – India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh – and progress in these countries has a large influence on the total number of additional users. Because modern contraceptive use rates are already higher in Asia, the rate of contraceptive use is growing more slowly than in Africa. In 2017, it is estimated that 38% of all women of reproductive age in Asia are using a modern method.

“FP2020 is a country-led movement to empower women and girls by investing in rights-based family planning. We believe that every woman and girl must be empowered to shape her own life,” explains Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of FP2020. “Family planning is both a basic right and a life-changing, transformational health service with the potential to accelerate progress across all our development goals.”

Over the past five years, FP2020 has pioneered a country-led, globally-backed development partnership that brings together governments, policymakers, program implementers, service providers, and donors to ensure that health systems in participating countries are becoming better aligned to meet the needs of an ever-increasing number of women and girls. The partnership, which embraces a shared responsibility for creating a world where all women and girls can freely determine their own futures by deciding whether and when to have children, and what size family is best in their particular circumstances, continues to expand year by year.

“The family planning community is united, resilient, and ready to meet the future,” says Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA and Co-Chair of the FP2020 Reference Group. “There may be uncertainties on the horizon, but our community’s dedication to women and girls is stronger than ever.”

This was evident at the 2017 Family Planning Summit in July, when a total of 74 commitment-makers stepped forward with new and renewed commitments to fund, expand, and support rights-based family planning – including 25 new partners making FP2020 commitments for the first time. With new commitments this year from Chad, Haiti, and South Sudan, the FP2020 partnership now includes 41 of its 69 countries.

Shifting donor priorities in 2017, including in the U.S., created an uncertain environment for family planning and broader health programs in developing countries around the world. “For all of us who believe that rights-based family planning is fundamental to achieving a healthier, more prosperous, just and equitable world, these are uncertain times,” said Schlachter.

FP2020: The Way Ahead contains a much-anticipated section on measuring progress through the monitoring of family planning data across the 69 countries. This section is designed to help family planning stakeholders assess progress at the global, regional, country and even local levels. Many countries rely heavily on this data as they develop and refine their efforts to advance rights-based family planning programs.

The report reveals that injectables are the most common contraceptive method in use in 28 of the focus countries, followed by pills in 16 countries, condoms in 9 countries, and IUDs in eight countries. Implants and injectables are continuing to increase in prevalence.

Rights-based family planning programs have a greater ripple effect than almost any other development investment, from saving lives and improving health to strengthening economies, transforming societies, and lifting entire countries out of poverty.

The report shows that the way ahead is charted and that FP2020 is taking advantage of all opportunities. “We’re witnessing significant growth in access to contraceptives, supported by strong engagement from governments and civil society,” said Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Co-Chair of the FP2020 Reference Group. “The report paints a clear picture of where we’re succeeding and where we need action. Young women are counting on leaders to deliver because access to contraceptives helps millions of women and girls lead healthy, productive lives.”  

If FP2020 is to meet its ambitious goals, the report concludes, then commitment-makers must honor their promises; country governments must do more to provide health care for their citizens; and those citizens must continue to hold public officials to account.

For more information, contact Elise Walter, or +202.615.3601   

Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) is a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have.