With more than 47 years of experience, USAID has long been the world leader in supporting voluntary family planning programs in the developing world. By enabling women and couples to have the number of children they want and helping them space their children three to five years apart, family planning has markedly improved maternal and child health.

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

<br />
 1961: After passing the Foreign Assistance Act in 1961, Congress authorizes research on family planning issues, including the provision of family planning information to couples who request it. 
 1965: USAID family planning program begins. The U.S. Government adopts a plan to reduce birth rates in developing countries through its War on Hunger and investments in family planning programs.
 1968: USAID makes its first purchase of contraceptives for distribution in developing countries.
 1969: President Nixon describes population growth as “one of the most serious challenges to human destiny in the last third of this century.” The Office of Population is established to provide leadership, initiative, coordination, technical guidance, and assistance in developing and conducting family planning activities.
 1970s: USAID sponsors pilot projects and develops successful community-based distribution systems that bring family planning information and services door-to-door.
 1972: USAID’s Office of Population begins supporting World Fertility Surveys. This is followed by support for additional reproductive health training and international surveys, such as the Contraceptive Prevalence Surveys, launched in 1975, and the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), launched in 1984. The DHS are large national household surveys that provide data for program monitoring and evaluation.
 1973: The Helms amendment to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act prohibits funding the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or motivating or coercing any person to practice abortions.
 1980s: Family planning programs expand to address such critical issues as maternal and child health and population and the environment.
 1982: USAID issues a policy paper stating that family planning programs will be based on fundamental principles of voluntarism and informed choice.
 1987: World population passes 5 billion. The United Nations establishes World Population Day to draw attention to population and reproductive health issues.
 1990: The Central Contraceptive Procurement Project is established by the USAID Administrator to provide high-quality contraceptives and condoms for USAID-supported family planning programs. 
 1994: At the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, 179 countries adopt a 20-year Programme of Action (PoA), which recognizes that reproductive health and rights – as well as women’s empowerment and gender equality – are cornerstones of population and development programs. The U.S. Government plays an integral role in the negotiations and the development of the PoA and is one of the 179 signatories.
 1995: USAID launches a new initiative to address adolescent reproductive health. 
 1996: FDA approves use of Jadelle, the two-rod levonorgestrel implant developed with USAID support.
 2002: The Office of Population and Reproductive Health formally establishes a Population-Environment program in response to legislative language in the FY 02 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act stating that an unspecified portion of funds allocated for family planning and reproductive health should be used “in areas where population growth threatens biodiversity or endangered species.”
 2003: New guidelines update USAID’s 1998 Programmatic Technical Guidance on integrating family planning and maternal and child health with services for preventing HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The guidelines include new information about effective integration of family planning into HIV programs and of HIV counseling and services into family planning programs.
 2009: President Barack Obama announces the Global Health Initiative, a 6-year initiative to develop a co-comprehensive approach to global health, with family planning as a key priority focus. 
 2010: The Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health is established, a 5-year public-private partnership comprising USAID, DFID, AusAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Alliance aims to help further the world’s progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals 5 a and b. 
 2011: Ouagadougou Conference brings renewed attention to the need for family planning in West Africa. The conference – a joint project of USAID, the French Government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation – saw the French making a historic, first-ever commitment to providing resources to family planning programs.
 2011: World population reaches 7 billion.
 2012: The London Summit on Family Planning was held to help raise global resources and awareness for family planning.


View the archived version of the USAID Family Planning Program Timeline: 1965 to 2009 [PDF, 419KB] including related graphs and charts.