Family Planning and Reproductive Health

More than 225 million women worldwide want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using a modern method of contraception. When a woman bears children too close together, too early, or too late in life, the health of the mother and baby are at risk. Enabling couples and individuals to determine whether, when and how often is vital to safe motherhood, healthy families, and prosperous communities.

Each year, greater access to family planning has the potential to:

  • Prevent up to 30 percent of the more than 287,000 maternal deaths that occur
  • Save the lives of 1.4 million children under the age of five in our priority countries

Benefits of Family Planning

Increasing access to reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, has profound health, economic and social benefits for families and communities, including:

  • Protecting the health of women and children by reducing high-risk pregnancies and allowing sufficient time between pregnancies.
  • Advancing and securing reproductive rights by empowering individuals and couples to freely choose their family size.
  • Improving women’s opportunities for education, employment, and full participation in society.
  • Reducing poverty by contributing to economic growth at the family, community, and national levels.
  • Decreasing unsafe abortion and the need for abortion altogether.
  • Mitigating the impact of population dynamics on natural resources and state stability.
  • Reducing HIV and AIDS through the prevention of new HIV infections and mother-to-child transmission via increased access to information, counseling, and condoms.

Our Work

USAID advances and supports voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs in nearly 40 countries across the globe. 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.

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.

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. Moreover, 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. USAID’s work in reproductive health also focuses on ending child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting [PDF, 704K], gender-based violence, and more.

Chart the course of USAID's work in family planning through an interactive timeline or infographic [PDF, 1.5MB] - marking some of the major milestones over the past 50+ years.

Demand for Family Planning Satisfied by Modern Contraceptive Methods in USAID’s Family Planning Priority Countries


Note: USAID has 24 family planning priority countries. Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) data from 22 priority countries are presented here. DHS have not been conducted in the remaining two priority countries – Afghanistan and South Sudan.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: October 05, 2016

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