Executive Summary

When women are able to decide for themselves whether and when to have children, everyone benefits.

The power to plan one’s own family lies at the very root of human freedom, and of our ability to thrive, prosper, and build a sustainable future. Use of modern contraception makes family planning possible, yet more than 225 million women and girls in developing countries—particularly the poorest and most vulnerable—still have an unmet need for this basic health care service.1

Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) is dedicated to changing that fact. This initiative is built on the premise that the life-changing benefits of modern contraception should be available everywhere in the world, to every woman and girl. As an outcome of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, our goal is to enable 120 million additional women and girls to use contraceptives by 2020. Achieving this goal is a critical milestone to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights by 2030, as laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals, and is central to accelerating progress across all development sectors.

This report marks the halfway point of the FP2020 initiative, and reflects the substantial progress made to date:

  • There are now more than 300 million women and girls using modern contraception in the world’s 69 poorest countries—a milestone that has taken decades to achieve.
  • More than 30 million of those users have been added since 2012, when FP2020 was launched.
  • In Eastern and Southern Africa, for the first time ever, more than 30% of women and girls are using a modern method of contraception.
  • In West Africa, where contraceptive use has been historically low, the Ouagadougou Partnership has surpassed its goal of reaching 1 million additional users between 2011 and 2015, and is now aiming to reach 2.2 million additional users between 2015 and 2020.

The work of the family planning community is having a positive impact, and the 30.2 million additional users of contraception is significantly more than the historical trend would predict. But it is still 19.2 million fewer users than we had hoped to reach by this time, indicating that we are off-track for our overall goal.

Nonetheless, the richness of the data now available enables us to peel back the layers and study the situation on a country-by-country basis. What emerges is a strikingly varied landscape of progress. A number of countries have registered immense gains in contraceptive use; other countries are moving more slowly; some countries appear stalled. The situation is illuminated by an S-Curve pattern, which depicts the general path of contraceptive uptake that countries have taken over the course of their development.

This knowledge is part of the toolkit we take into the second half of the initiative. We also bring with us a deeper understanding of how family planning services reach, or fail to reach, specific sub-populations of women and girls. The evidence base is growing for a wide range of issues and interventions, including youth-oriented approaches, method mix diversity, stock-outs, contraceptive discontinuation, rights-based programming, and postpartum family planning. The resulting insights can help us shape more effective programs, investments, and policies to reach women and girls with the services they need.

With four years remaining to reach our 2020 goal, the FP2020 platform has been optimized to help countries and partners absorb the lessons learned and accelerate progress. The partnership continues to expand, with more than 90 commitment makers now on board—including 382 of our 69 focus countries. The governance structure of the initiative has been reorganized to provide increased country support, and a new youth seat on the Reference Group reflects the additional emphasis on the inclusion of young people throughout the partnership. Further efforts to strengthen accountability and improve coordination between partners also have the potential to yield important gains.

The path to 2020 is undeniably steep, but with the tools and knowledge at our disposal, we’re poised to quicken the pace. The FP2020 partnership represents an unprecedented global commitment to the rights, health, and empowerment of millions of women and girls. By pulling together, eschewing business as usual, and capitalizing on the new resources and alliances that have emerged, we can deliver on the promise of the London Summit.

1. Singh S, Darroch JE and Ashford LS, Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2014, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2014.

2. This figure does not include South Africa, which made a commitment to FP2020 but is not one of the 69 focus countries. South Africa’s GNI does not qualify it as one of the world’s poorest countries, based on the World Bank 2010 classification using the Atlas Method.