Family Planning and Reproductive Health

More than 225 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using a modern method of contraception.

Enabling couples to determine whether, when and how often to have children is vital to safe motherhood and healthy families. Increasing access to reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, has profound health, economic and social benefits for families and communities, such as:

  • Protecting the health of women by reducing high-risk pregnancies.
  • Protecting the health of children by allowing sufficient time between pregnancies.
  • Fighting HIV and AIDS through providing information, counseling and access to male and female condoms.
  • Reducing unsafe abortion and the need for abortion altogether.
  • Supporting women's rights and opportunities for education, employment and full participation in society.
  • Mitigating the impact of population dynamics on economic growth, natural resources and state stability.

Family planning could prevent up to 30 percent of the more than 287,000 maternal deaths that occur every year, by enabling women to delay their first pregnancy and space later pregnancies at the safest intervals. If all babies were born three years apart, the lives of 1.6 million children under the age of five would be saved each year.

USAID advances and supports voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs in more than 45 countries across the globe. Since the launch of USAID’s family planning program in 1965, families are better able to feed, clothe, educate and provide health care for their children. USAID’s work in reproductive health also focuses on ending child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting [PDF, 704KB], gender-based violence, and more.

To achieve this objective USAID:

  • Exercises global leadership in policy, information and services.
  • Supports field-driven program design and implementation.
  • Provides comprehensive technical support.
  • Advances research and innovation.
  • Engages in high-impact partnerships.

As the world’s largest family planning bilateral donor, USAID is committed to helping countries meet the family planning and reproductive health needs of their people. USAID supports Family Planning 2020's goal to reach 120 million more women and girls in the world's poorest countries with access to voluntary family planning information, contraceptives, and services by 2020. Since USAID started its program, modern contraceptive use in the 27 countries with the largest USAID-supported programs has increased from under 10 to 37 percent, and the number of children per family has dropped from more than 6 to 4.5.

Chart the course of USAID's work in family planning through an interactive timeline marking some of the major milestones over the past 47+ years.

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Last updated: September 29, 2015

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