Family Planning

More than 222 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. 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/AIDS through providing information, counseling and access to male and female condoms.
  • Reducing abortion.
  • 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.

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.

USAID has engaged in strategic partnerships to improve donor coordination and country ownership for family planning programs. As a member of the Alliance for Maternal, Reproductive and Newborn Health, USAID has committed to contribute to the goal of 100 million additional users of modern methods of family planning by 2015.

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.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: April 01, 2014

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